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Community-Based Tasks for ESL Students

               Created by
           The LEAF Program
          Asian Human Services
English Beyond the Classroom   i

      This project was in every sense a collaboration, and could only have
been done with the support of the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB),
staff in the Literacy Education for Adults and Families (LEAF) Program at
Asian Human Services, and the students in our program.
      Much effort went into creating this set of materials. Over forty
community-based activities were composed, assigned to students, revised,
provided with introductions, and assembled, and greatest thanks must go to
Kathy Speers, Coordinator of Adult Education at Asian Human Services, who
contributed enormously to every part of the project. Terri Baron and Alice
Cook, ESL instructors in the LEAF Program, did substantial work on the
community-based tasks. Barbara Daley and Jerry Kaplan, also instructors in
our program, added assignments to the collection. Other staff in the agency
who provided valuable administrative and technical assistance include Joanna
Medina-Moy, Nancy Castaneda, Shabana Hooda and Tom Takach. Thanks also
go to Abha Pandya, the C.E.O. of Asian Human Services, for her support of
LEAF Program during this project year.
      English Beyond the Classroom was made possible by funding from the
ICCB. We are grateful in particular to Sarah Hawker, Jennifer Foster, Pat
DeHesus Lopez and David Baker of the ICCB for their commitment to Asian
Human Services and to the Leadership Grant project that we have labored
over for more than a year.
        The Stevens Amendment of the Department of Defense Appropriations
Act 1998 mandates that issuing statements, press releases, bid solicitations, and
other documents describing projects or programs funded in whole or in part with
federal money, all grantees receiving federal funds, including but not limited to
local and state governments, shall clearly state the following in accordance with the
Stevens Amendment: (1) the percentage of the total cost of the project or program
which will be financed with federal money and (2) the dollar amount of federal
funds for the project or program.

English Beyond the Classroom                                                        i
English Beyond the Classroom   ii
                               Table of Contents

Acknowledgements                                               i

Introduction                                                   v

A Note on the Use of This Text                                 ix

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                              1
      1) Asking for Walking Directions
      2) Asking for Directions on Public Transportation
      3) Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
      4) Calling an Airline
      5) Computer Task: Using “Mapquest” to Find Directions

Unit Two: Public Services                                      17
      1) Library Scavenger Hunt
      2) Important Phone Numbers
      3) Visiting the Post Office
      4) Calling the Toll-free Post Office number
      5) Computer Task: Secretary of State Driver Facilities

Unit Three: Retail Services                                    31
      1) Business Hours
      2) Department Store Scavenger Hunt
      3) Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt
      4) Calling Local Businesses I (Listening Task)
      5) Calling Local Businesses II (Speaking Task)
      6) Computer Task: Searching for Retail Items Online

Unit Four: Housing                                             47
      1) Classified Housing Advertisements
      2) Attending an Open House
      3) Computer Task: Calculating New Home Costs
      4) Computer Task: Renting an Apartment Online
      5) Computer Task: Comparing Cities

English Beyond the Classroom                                        iii
Unit Five: Health                                            65
      1) Visiting the Doctor
      2) Going to the Pharmacy
      3) Going to a Health Fair
      4) Safety in the Home
      5) Computer Task: Health Information Online

Unit Six: Education                                          85
      1) My Child’s School
      2) Visiting a Community College
      3) Telephone: Illinois Adult Learning Hotline
      4) Computer Task: Chicago Public Schools website
      5) Computer Task: Truman College website

Unit Seven: Employment                                       103
      1) Getting a Job Application
      2) Visiting a Career Resource Center
      3) Interviewing a Professional
      4) Computer Task: Chicago Tribune Job Site

Unit Eight: Leisure                                          115
      1) Visiting a Chicago Park District Field House
      2) Planning a Class Trip
      3) Calling a Movie Theater
      4) Computer Task: Travel website
      5) Computer Task: Chicago Park District website

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                             131
      1) Solving a Neighborhood Problem
      2) Calling 3-1-1 for Civic Information
      3) Computer Task: Finding Citizen Information Online
      4) Computer Task: Who are my elected officials?
      5) Computer/Community Task: Volunteer Opportunities

Student Surveys                                              147

English Beyond the Classroom                                       iv

Learning English

       What does it mean to “learn” an English lesson in an adult education
class? Is it that the student can perform well on a standardized test, or
complete an activity in the classroom with some ease? Has a student
“learned” the English if he or she can accurately reproduce it within the
confines of that instructional room? We like to think we’ve done enough if
we’ve done that much; if our teaching skills, experience and creativity have
resulted in progress that is measured inside – and only inside – the
classroom. However, if the goal of the English as a Second Language class is
to make its students better able to function in an English-speaking
environment, then such progress as this may not be adequate, even if the
teaching is. If ESL students have not truly learned English until they can
reproduce it in a wide variety of situations – as native speakers can - then
perhaps methods are called for which put our students into these situations,
which allow them to think on their feet and make their mistakes and, over
time, gain in confidence and ability. That is the aim of this text: to help lead
the adult immigrant with limited English skills out of the classroom and into
the community.
       Language learners need real language experiences. The explanation,
role play, repetition, and testing that take place in the classroom can
prepare a student very well for these experiences, but nothing can
substitute for the real-life communication in a foreign language, which
language is only a part of. Consider the young immigrant mother who has
memorized the words and phrases one uses at a pharmacy, and with other
students practiced asking a pharmacist for advice, but when she actually
goes to the pharmacy, her self-consciousness and nerves wipe her memory
clean, and communication breaks down. The job-seeker talking to the
interviewer; the parent talking to the teacher; the apartment-dweller
talking to the landlord: in these and many other scenarios, it is not just
language that presents a barrier, but also social and economic status, fear of
failure, etc. Ultimately, these barriers can only be overcome through
experience, and not through simulations, however valuable that practice is.
       There are two factors, then, that are necessary for an immigrant to
be able to get along in an English-speaking environment, namely language and
self-assurance in using it, and we tend to think that the latter is not the

English Beyond the Classroom                                                  v
instructor’s responsibility. If it were stress or fear that caused a
breakdown in communication between, say, the immigrant mother and the
doctor, we would hardly be willing to fault the ESL teacher for that. And
yet, if students lack the confidence to put their English to good use, how will
they benefit from even the very best language instruction? If an ESL
program provides only half the tools that are needed to break down the wall
between the immigrant and the English-speaking community, where will the
other tools come from? The most resourceful immigrants will find ways to
scale that wall or get around it, but for the majority of our students, that
wall looms large, and English alone will not hoist them over it.
       Real language experiences, repeated frequently, can foster self-
assurance in ESL students. Most students who are willing to approach
different kinds of native-English speakers in different situations will
gradually find it easier to make themselves understood and to understand
others. They will discover language patterns that are used over and over, and
also unique language usage that they would not learn elsewhere. Through
real language experiences, immigrants can make strides toward the self-
sufficiency in communication that eludes many of them. How, then, can adult
education programs provide these experiences? How can instructors in the
ESL profession, many of whom are part-time staff, overworked and
underpaid, and teaching large classes of students with widely ranging skills,
possibly develop a systematic approach for getting into the community
students who are themselves overworked, who have families and homes to
care for, jobs to hold down, and fear to overcome? Students in adult
education are frequently harried; the demands of their lives oblige them to
come to class late, leave early, and often miss the class entirely. In these
circumstances, one might ask, how could we load instructor and student alike
with a heavier burden on their time, and ask more of those who may be at
their giving limit?

Community-based assignments

       The materials to be presented in the following pages strive not to
increase the workload of teacher or student, but to offer a learning
alternative that will increase students’ ability to function in the world they
live in. The tasks that are asked of students in these pages may seem
daunting to them – but not because they are necessarily time-consuming or
complex. Indeed, in this curriculum, we have attempted to create

English Beyond the Classroom                                                 vi
assignments that are characterized by simplicity and straightforwardness,
and while they do require time outside of class, it may not be any more time
than is required to do a typical amount of homework over the course of a
week. At the heart of this curriculum is the community-based assignment;
this is a worksheet, no more than two pages in length, that gives students
instructions to complete an activity outside of class. If these assignments
are given to students about once a week, it should take them no more than a
couple of hours at most to complete the task, and often much less time. For
example, students might be asked to visit their local library, ask certain
questions about the services provided, fill out an application for a library
card and/or take out books. They would have the better part of a week,
including a weekend, to do the assignment, and a good part of class time
would be taken up in preparing for the activity or discussing it afterwards..
       Community-based assignments offer a way to broaden the student’s
experience in the community, and at the same time to provide support as he
or she ventures into unfamiliar territory. The ones that we have created
for this curriculum attempt to find a balance between nudging students
outward and preparing them for the challenge. A host of objections may
arise, however, from teachers faced with such assignments: “Our ESL
classes don’t meet every day”; “Our students are too low-level”; “They don’t
have time…transportation…interest….” “It doesn’t fit into our curriculum.”
Every adult education program is different, and every one has its own
methods of instruction, schedule, student population, etc., but all adult
education programs share a common goal, which is to expand the horizon of
their learners; and ultimately, those horizons exist outside of the class. The
community-based assignments in this curriculum are malleable; they may be
changed, made central to a syllabus or placed in a supporting role, used in
sequence or plucked according to some other order. Ideally, they would
become mere models from which instructors would create their own
activities. Our intention is not to create a scripted lesson plan from which
there is no variance, but to offer learning materials that can, if necessary,
be fashioned to meet the needs of each adult education provider.

Student Participation

      “Students won’t be motivated to go out and do these activities.” This
is perhaps the most legitimate objection to be made to such a proposal as
ours. If many students are already hesitant to apply the English they are

English Beyond the Classroom                                               vii
learning, how can an instructor oblige them to complete assignments they
may reluctant to try, without alienating them and perhaps even seeing them
disappear from the class? Teachers can require that homework be done as a
condition of belonging to a class, but assigning this kind of homework may
seem too challenging a demand to make on some students, especially at first.
Indeed, our own goal has been to get good, rather than total, participation,
knowing well that our best efforts will feel like defeat if we aim for 100%
student involvement; and knowing also that if we can significantly expand the
horizons of some of our students, that will count as success. What follows
are a few methods we have used to increase student participation;
undoubtedly, other teachers and programs will have methods of their own
that work just as well. We have:

   •   Surveyed students to find out what kinds of activities they would like
       to do in the community. (We have included several of our surveys at
       the end of this curriculum.)
   •   Encouraged students who have completed community-based tasks to
       talk about their experiences in class, as a way of making the activities
       seem less fearsome to hesitant students
   •   Used class time to let students complete some of the activities
   •   For some of the activities, especially at first, sent students in pairs
   •   Increased the difficulty of tasks gradually, to allow students time to
       get accustomed to doing community-based activities
   •   Prepared students well in class, through a variety of exercises, so
       that they understood the assignment and had time to practice it

   Most of these suggestions will be rather obvious to ESL teachers who
have encountered low student participation and tried to improve it. The
reluctance of some students to “risk” stepping outside familiar territory will
always be an obstacle for instructors to contend with, and perhaps the best
strategy of all is for teachers to remain committed to the principle that
students should be involved in the community, and to continue working
toward that end.

Barth Landor
Asian Human Services

English Beyond the Classroom                                                viii
                  A Note on the Use of This Text

Some of the activities in this volume are meant more as models than as
ready-to-use assignments. We have tried to create generic tasks, but in
certain instances, specific place names have been necessary to include, and
so the format presented would work only for students in our area – the
Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Also, our computer tasks rely on
particular website designs which could change over time. We encourage
teachers to adapt materials as they see fit, and also to try out any computer
and telephone activities in advance. Perhaps more importantly, we encourage
teachers to look at the environment in which their own students live and
work, and to create new community-based activities that are tailored to this

English Beyond the Classroom                                               ix
English Beyond the Classroom   x
            Unit One: Finding Your Way Around

       1.     Asking for Walking Directions
       2.     Asking for Directions on Public Transportation
       3.     Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
       4.     Calling an Airline
       5.     Computer Task: Using “Mapquest” to Find Directions

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                  1
              1. ASKING for WALKING DIRECTIONS
                               Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Students must practice the necessary skill of asking directions.
This activity gives them a low-risk way to practice.

PREPARATION:          Students will need to practice the language associated
with giving directions in order to comprehend the answer. Depending on the
level of the class, the teacher can teach relatively simple directions for
places nearby or more complicated directions for further distances. The
class can practice using a simple map of the neighborhood or the class can go
outside and walk around the neighborhood, asking and giving each other

RECOMMENDATIONS: Students can do this during class time if possible.
This way, they can do it in pairs with weaker students paired with more
confident students. After they have successfully practiced during class
time, the assignment can be given for homework to be done in a different
       This activity can be used to build students’ confidence in asking the
directions because it is low-risk; that is, even if they don’t understand the
answer completely, they can simply reply, “OK, thank you.” More advanced
students can be encouraged to repeat the directions back.

  • Turn right/left. / Make a right/left.
  • Go straight.
  • Block(s)
  • It’s on the right/left.
  • Excuse me

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                           2
Community Activity                    NAME _______________________
Asking for walking directions

Task: Ask 2 people for directions. Do not ask your classmates! This
practice must be done outside of class.

Example questions: Excuse me, where is the post office?
                   Excuse me, could you tell me where the bus stop is?
                   Excuse me, is there a McDonald’s near here?

1. What question did you ask the 1st person?


2. Did you understand the answer?     YES          NO

3. What did he / she say? Write what you heard here:



4. What question did you ask the 2nd person?


5. Did you understand the answer?     YES          NO

6. What did he / she say? Write what you heard here:



After the activity:
1. Tell the class about your experience.
2. Was this the first time you asked for directions in English? YES NO
3. Were you nervous when you asked the question?                YES NO
4. Do you feel more prepared to do it again in the future?
                                       YES          NO, I need more practice

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                          3
                        Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity allows students to practice asking for directions on
the public transportation system in their city (in this case, Chicago). This is
a crucial skill if the learners are to gain more independence in their new

PREPARATION: Before going to the train station, the class should have a
discussion about the public transportation in their city to determine how
familiar and comfortable the students are with it. The teacher should have
transit maps for the class to review. The teacher can do a variety of
reading, listening, and pair/group activities using the maps. The class can
work together to generate a list of questions for students to ask and places
to visit.

R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S : This activity can be given as a homework
assignment or it can be done during class time with the students working in
pairs or small groups. In the latter case, stronger students can help weaker
or more reticent students with the communication required.
       Lower level students will need a lot of work with the vocabulary for
giving directions before doing this activity. More advanced students can ask
for more complicated directions and/or can ask additional questions such as
whether bicycles are permitted on the trains.
       This activity also offers the opportunity for students to learn and
practice the correct pronunciation of place names (street names, station
names, public buildings, etc.)

  • north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest
  • right, left, straight
  • Take the (red line / #36 bus) to…
  • Get on/get off at…
  • Transfer/change to…
  • Block(s) stop(s)
  • “Excuse me. Could you tell me how to get to…?”

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                             4
Community Activity                   Name ______________________
Asking for Directions on Public Transportation

Task: This is an activity to help you practice asking questions about using
the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). Please do the following things:

1. Decide on a travel destination in Chicago (examples: the John Hancock
Center, Water Tower Place, Shedd Aquarium). Write your destination here:

2. What exact questions are you going to ask? Write your question(s) here:

3. Go to the CTA train station nearest you. If you are not sure where it is,
we can look at a map together. If there is nobody working there, ask a
customer or go to another station.

4. Ask the CTA employee or a customer your question. If you like, you can
ask him or her to show you where it is on a map. Thank him or her.

After the activity:

1. Write the directions that the person gave you:


2. Did the person understand your question?               YES      NO

3. Do you think you could find your destination with these directions?
                                                           YES      NO
4. What new words or expressions did you learn from this activity?

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                              5
                 3.     NEIGHBORHOOD SCAVENGER HUNT
                            Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity is designed for students to familiarize themselves
with their neighborhoods. It is very low risk and easy to complete. Many of
the locations are useful for everyday living, such as the post office and
grocery store. Others are locations that are needed in an emergency, such
as the hospital and police station. It is a good idea for students to know the
location and phone numbers of these places.

PREPARATION: This activity takes very little preparation. It can be
incorporated into a lesson about telephone numbers and addresses or into a
lesson about places in the city. Discuss where addresses are located (on the
curb, above the door, on the window) before assigning this task. Prior to
this activity, have a conversation about the city and the different
neighborhoods that the students live in. Discuss which neighborhoods are
better and why.

RECOMMENDATIONS: The students could draw a map to accompany their
findings or they could go to and print out a map of their
neighborhood. After the activity, the students can share their findings in
small groups. Return to the conversation about which neighborhoods are
better and why. Also, if the phone number is not on the window of the
establishment, the students could use the phone book to locate the number.

  • Excuse me, what is your address/phone number? (They will probably
    need to ask for the phone number.)
  • map vocabulary – corner, intersection, on the left/right, across from,
    next to, near, far

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                            6
Community Activity          Name: ________________________
Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

Task: Take a walk in your neighborhood and locate the following places.
Record the name, address and phone number of each place. If the phone
number isn’t on the door or window, ask someone inside or use a phone book.

1. Library           Name: _____________________________________
                     Address: ___________________________________
                     Phone number: _______________________________

2. Post office       Name: _____________________________________
                     Address: ___________________________________
                     Phone number: _______________________________

3. Hospital          Name: _____________________________________
                     Address: ___________________________________
                     Phone number: _______________________________

4. Elementary        Name: _____________________________________
   school            Address: ___________________________________
                     Phone number: _______________________________

5. Park              Name: _____________________________________
                     Address: ___________________________________
                     Phone number: _______________________________

6. Grocery store Name: _____________________________________
                 Address: ___________________________________
                 Phone number: _______________________________

7. Bank              Name: _____________________________________
                     Address: ___________________________________
                     Phone number: _______________________________

8. Police station    Name: _____________________________________
                     Address: ___________________________________
                     Phone number: _______________________________

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                             7
After the Activity:

1. What places are far from your house? What places are near your house?

2. Did you walk inside any place to ask for a phone number?

3. What is the emergency phone number for the police station and fire

4. Do you go to any of these places regularly? Which ones?

New words and phrases:

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                          8
Unit One: Finding Your Way Around   9
                           4. CALLING AN AIRLINE
                               Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity is designed to give students practice speaking in
English on the telephone and using an automated answering system. The
automated systems can be confusing to navigate, but they are becoming
commonplace when calling businesses and public services. It is the
instructor’s discretion whether the students use the automated system or
have the students talk to an operator.

P R E P A R A T I O N : This activity is a good companion to any unit on
transportation and travel. Students start with discussions about travel in
general and airplane travel in particular. Even students who do not have
imminent travel plans enjoy talking about travel and visiting their home
        Prior to making the phone call, it is necessary for the students to
come up with a destination (city and country or state), a departure date, and
a return date. Students should be prepared with questions 1-6 before
calling. The teacher should make one or more practice calls before giving
the assignment to the students to be able to teach common, useful phrases
to the students. These phrases can be practiced in the form of role-plays,
dialogue writing, and/or listening activities. Finally, it is important for the
teacher to also teach the students how to politely decline buying tickets.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Students can be extremely nervous about making
phone calls. The braver students often can give the more reticent students
encouragement by reporting their results (even if they had problems.)
    Students who do not have access to a phone or who had problems
making/understanding the call could make the call from school with the
teacher or another student using the same line or using a speaker phone.
    Students can follow up this activity by going to the airline website and
 then comparing the prices there with the ones from the automated service.

  • Arrival/departure                         •   non-stop/direct/layover
  • one-way/roundtrip                         •   press “1”, “2”, star/pound
  • fare/airfare                              •   Make a reservation.

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                              10
Telephone Activity                  NAME _________________________
Calling an Airline

Task: Call an airline and speak to an agent to find information about airfares.

Requesting airfare information:
I’d like fare information. / I want to find out a ticket price.
I’m leaving from (Chicago) on (date) and I’m traveling to (. . .) on (date).
I’d like to leave in the morning / afternoon / evening.

Asking about making a reservation:
Would you like to reserve a ticket? Could I make a reservation for you?
Would you like me to hold this for you?

Politely declining:
No thank you. I’m just checking prices right now.
No thanks. I’m not ready to make a reservation yet.
No thank you. I’ll call back another time.

1. Write the name of a travel destination here. It can be a U.S. or
international city. ___________________________________________
2. What date do you want to leave?     ____________________________
3. What time of day do you want to leave? (morning, afternoon, evening)
4. What date do you want to return? ____________________________
5. What time of day do you want to return? (morning, afternoon, evening)
6. How many people will be traveling? ____________________________

7. Choose an airline from below. Call the airline and find the fare for the
dates that you want to travel.
American     1-800-433-7300            Delta         1-800-221-1212
America West 1-800-235-9292            Northwest 1-800-225-2525
Continental 1-800-231-0856             United        1-800-241-6522
US Airways 1-800-428-4322              Other:_______________________

8. How much is the airfare per person? $ _________________________

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                              11
After the activity:

1. Was it difficult to understand the automated message when you called?

2. Did you have to call more than one time?

3. Was it difficult to communicate with the agent?

4. What words or phrases did you need to repeat to the agent?

5. Do you feel prepared to do this by yourself in the future?

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                          12
Unit One: Finding Your Way Around   13
                        Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: It was not so long ago that map-reading skills were necessary to
anyone unfamiliar with their surroundings. Now we can quickly find
directions using the computer, especially if we are driving. Mapquest is the
best-known website to find out how to get from one place to the next, and
also to find out distances and travel times. The purpose of this exercise is
to introduce students to this relatively new, fairly easy method for getting

PREPARATIONS: Before students sit down at the computer, have them do
exercises that replicate the Mapquest format. This could include writing
out directions from their house to their learning center (“Turn right on
Maple, go two blocks to Elm”, etc.). They could even estimate at the end of
the directions the time it takes to drive or walk, and the distance.
      Also, give them a set of directions from Mapquest itself – not the
ones they will be entering – so that they can see what the format looks like,
and how to enter information on the computer screen.
      In class, have the students write down names of businesses and
addresses that they know – fellow classmates’, local offices, etc. It will help
them to come furnished to the computer lab with a list of addresses they
can use.

RECOMMENDATIONS: To personalize this more, have the students come
up with different locations in the city. Also, have them bring in addresses
of their place of employment, a long distance relative, or a place that they
want to visit. This is a low level, low stress activity and a great way to
introduce the students to the Internet. If the students wrote directions
before completing this activity, compare the two sets of directions.

  • homepage
  • destination
  • zoom in/out

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                             14
Computer Task                          Name: ______________________
Using Mapquest to Find Directions

Task: It is easy to get directions on the Internet. You can get directions
for long trips (from Chicago to Boston, for example) or for short trips. You
can even find out how to get from your house to another place.

Part One: Follow the directions below to see how to get from Wrigley Field,
where the Chicago Cubs play, to Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears play.

1. Type in
2. In the upper right corner, click “Directions”.
3. Enter the starting address: 1060 W. Addison, Chicago, IL 60613 (This is
the address of Wrigley Field.)
4. Enter the destination address: 1600 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
60616 (This is the address of Soldier Field).
5. Click “Get Directions” (Sometimes there is a mistake. Follow the
instructions next to the exclamation (!) to find your mistake.)
6. How many miles is it from Wrigley Field to Soldier Field?
7. If you drive, how long will it take you?

Part Two: Get directions from your house to a classmate’s house.

1. Go back to the Mapquest homepage.
2. In the upper right hand corner, click “Directions”.
3. Type in your address, including city, state and zip code.
4. Type in the address of a classmate. Put the city and state.
5. How many miles is it to this destination?
6. How long will it take you to get there?

Part Three: Mapquest also allows you to get maps. Follow the instructions.

1. Go back to the Mapquest homepage.
2. Click on Maps (the orange globe on the top of the screen).
3. Practice getting maps by putting in the addresses you typed in earlier. For
example, put in the address for Wrigley Field, and get the map. Then, put in
the address for your house and get the map.
4. Practice “zoom in” and “zoom out”. This lets you see bigger or smaller
scaled maps.

Unit One: Finding Your Way Around                                              15
Unit One: Finding Your Way Around   16
                     Unit Two: Public Services

       1.      Library Scavenger Hunt
       2.      Important Phone Numbers
       3.      Visiting the Post Office
       4.      Calling the Toll-free Post Office number
       5.      Computer Task: Secretary of State Driver Facilities

Unit Two: Public Services                                            17
                            1. LIBRARY SCAVENGER HUNT
                                 Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity is designed to get the students familiar with their
local library and the services it has to offer.

PREPARATION: The teacher should prepare the students for a trip to the
library by discussing where the nearest library is, what services are
offered, who goes to the library and how often, etc.
      Teachers should find out how many students have library cards and
encourage all students to get cards. Tell students to bring the proper ID
with them to the library if they are to get their library cards.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Going to the library makes a good class trip, but
this could also be given as a homework assignment. In Chicago, we took our
students to the main library, the Harold Washington Library, which many
students were not familiar with. The students could be given the assignment
again to do at their branch library.
       More advanced students could be given a lesson in locating a book in
the library by using the catalog system. An alternative activity is to
schedule a guided tour of the library.

  • library card
  • due date
  • library branch
  • fine
  • borrow/lend
  • catalog
  • check-out/return
  • shelf/shelves
  • “Excuse me. Where is/are the…?”
  • Prepositions of location: next to, in the back, in the front, near,
    behind, in the corner
  • Ordinal numbers: 1st floor, 2nd floor, etc.

Unit Two: Public Services                                                 18
Community Activity                     NAME _______________________
Library Scavenger Hunt

1. Find the following items in the library. If you cannot locate something,
ask the librarian.

THINGS TO FIND                                   DID YOU FIND IT?
Videos/DVDs                                 YES ___   NO ___

Internet access                             YES ___      NO ___

Books in your native language               YES ___      NO ___

ESL books                                   YES ___      NO ___

Children’s books                            YES ___      NO ___

Newspapers in English                       YES ___      NO ___

Music CD’s                                  YES ___      NO ___

Copy machine                                YES ___      NO ___

Books on tape                               YES ___      NO ___

               Telephone books              YES ___      NO ___

Check-out desk                              YES ___      NO ___

2. Pick up the following items while you are at the library and bring them
back to class.

       a) map of the library
       b) children’s story time schedule
       c) special events calendar

Unit Two: Public Services                                                    19
3. Answer these questions:
   a) How many books can I borrow?

   b) How long can I borrow a book?

   c) What is the fine for a late book?

   d) Are videos and DVD’s free?

   e) How long can I borrow a video or DVD?

   f) What is the fine for a late video or DVD?

   g) How many computers with Internet access are there?

   h) Is there a time limit for Internet use?

   i) What are the library’s hours?

4. If you have a library card today, check out a book.

5. What is the name of the book(s)? ______________________________


6. Why did you choose this book? _______________________________


After the activity:

1. Share your answers with your classmates.

2. What new information did you learn about the library?

Unit Two: Public Services                                          20
Unit Two: Public Services   21
                       2. IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS
                             Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Knowing important telephone numbers, including emergency
numbers, is vital for ESL students, and indeed, for all families. Collecting
contact information for doctors, schools, babysitters, etc., and keeping them
in a prominent place in the home can save families time and trouble.

PREPARATION: This activity works well as part of a child safety unit in a
family literacy class. Students first brainstorm what phone numbers are
important to have on hand in the home. Then they discuss ways of gathering
these numbers. Teachers can bring copies of the local phone directory to
class to show and to use. This is a good activity for teaching how to use the
phone directory for those students not familiar with it. This requires the
skill of alphabetizing.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This activity can be done in class, with students
using the phone directories in pairs, or it can be done as homework. When
the forms are completed, students are advised to put them on the
refrigerator or near the telephone at home. The students can write
dialogues and practice role-plays of making telephone calls, especially
emergency ones.

  • area code
  • numbers 1-10
  • yellow pages/white pages
  • emergency/non-emergency
  • 411 (number for information)

Unit Two: Public Services                                                   22
Community Activity                        Name: _______________________
                              Important Phone Numbers

                            Name               Telephone Number
My child’s school:

My child’s doctor:

My child’s dentist:

My school:

Police Emergency:

Police Non-Emergency:

Fire Department – Emergency:

Fire Department- Non Emergency:

Poison Control Center:

Electric Company:

Telephone Company:

Gas Company:

Unit Two: Public Services                                             23
                        3. VISITING THE POST OFFICE
                              Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity is designed primarily to encourage the students to
locate and use their neighborhood post office. A change of address form is
one of the many services that the post office offers. Possibly, the students
will learn of other services the post office can provide while picking up this
form. This can be used with very low-level students since there is no
speaking required.

PREPARATION: Have the students complete simple forms that include
their name and personal information. Bring a change of address form to
class so the students know what it looks like. Have a discussion about what
types of services the post office can provide and the location of main
offices. Discuss prices of stamps, packages, and ways they use the post
office here and in their native country. Have students practice addressing
envelopes so that they know how to do so correctly.

RECOMMENDATIONS: For low-level students, have them pick up the form
and fill in their name and address. For extremely low-level students, go to
the post office as a class. For higher-level students, have them ask a
question about mailing a package or letter to their native country in addition
to asking for the form. If the class has computer time, this activity may be
completed via the Internet.

  • name – first, last, maiden, middle
  • address – current, new, previous
  • street name, number, city, state, zip code
  • abbreviations – apt, st, zip, #
  • signature

Unit Two: Public Services                                                    24
Community Activity                 Name:       _______________________
Visiting the Post Office

Task : Go to the post office and pick up a change of address form. Fill it
out, put it in an envelope and mail it to the teacher.

1. Go to the post office near the school or near your home. There is a
counter with many different forms. Pick up a change of address form.

2. Fill out the form. Fill in your name and old mailing address. Use your
current address. You do not need to put a new mailing address.

3. Put the change of address form in an envelope. Mail it to the school
address. Don’t forget to put a return address and stamp on the envelope.

                       Name of Teacher
                       Address of Learning Center
                       Town, State, Zip Code

4. Mail the envelope to the teacher.

After the Activity:

1. What other forms are at the post office?

2. When do you use a change of address form?

3. What other things are in the change of address envelope?

Unit Two: Public Services                                                   25
                         Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Automated voice systems are a good way for students to get
used to making telephone calls – and toll-free calls allow students to make
calls without seeing their phone bill go up. We are accustomed to a certain
“automated language” in making these calls, and students learning English
should also become familiar with these words and phrases (see “useful
language” below).     So the purpose of this activity is to get our students
used to the practice of making automated calls, and also to gather useful
information for mailing letters.

PREPARATION: If possible, get a recording of a “conversation” that
involves an automated system. If one is not available, create a transcript
based on such a call. Have students read through – or listen to – this
conversation several times, to become familiar with the response pattern.
       Call the toll-free postal service number, and write down the
categories of information that they provide (one of them is “Zip Codes”,
which is the basis of this exercise.) Review the different categories with
them, so that even if they don’t “Press or Say Mailing Rates”, for example,
they will have more confidence with the vocabulary when they are listening.
       Encourage the students to make the call several times. Toll-free
automated calls are truly risk-free!

RECOMMENDATION: This activity can also be completed using the USPS
website ( Both the automated system and the website are
good for low level students. There are many activities on both, such as
locating a post office in a particular zip code or changing your address.

  • touch-tone
  • voice-activated system
  • toll-free
  • automated system
  • “To Continue in English…”
  • “Press or Say…”
  • “Please select from the following options”

Unit Two: Public Services                                                  26
Telephone Activity                  Name: ______________________
Calling The Toll-free Post Office number

Task: Call the United States Post Office’s toll-free number. This is an
automated system, so no one will answer the phone. Speak clearly into the
phone in order to find out information. The goal for this activity will be to
get the zip code for an address.

1. Write down the name of an address you are familiar with in the United
States. You can write down your own address, or another one.

2. Practice saying this address a couple of times. Speak clearly!

3. On your touch-tone phone, dial 1-800-275-8777 (1-800-ASK USPS)

4. The recording you hear will give you instructions. The first one will be to
“Press or Say 1” to continue in English. Make sure you press or say 1!

5. Listen to the message and follow the instructions. Give the state name,
the city name, and the address you would like.

6. When the voice asks “Correct?” make sure you say “Yes” or No”. Be sure
to speak loudly and clearly.

           What is the address you asked about?

           What is the zip code that you heard?

After the activity:

1. Have you ever used a voice-activated system like this one before? Can you
remember when?
2. Did you understand the voice when she was speaking?
3. Did you find this activity easy to do, or difficult?

Unit Two: Public Services                                                        27
                           Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity introduces students to the Illinois Secretary of
State’s website, and in particular to information about driver facilities
statewide. It’s useful for any student who is eligible to drive in the state.
Because of the potential consequences of not following the rules of the road,
this exercise may be important in educating students about requirements
and services provided by the Illinois Secretary of State.

PREPARATION:          Ask students about driving rules and customs in their
native countries. How do their laws differ from ours? Find out what they
know about driving requirements in Illinois. How often do drivers have to
renew their licenses? If drivers get speeding tickets, what can they do to
get the tickets off their records? Can you own a car in this state without
       For many of our students, these questions may be sensitive ones.
Teachers should encourage students to be well-informed about the driving
laws of the state they live in, whether or not they have all the same driving
rights as legal residents.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This exercise is a good one for students at
intermediate to advanced levels. The teacher could get a driver’s manual and
discuss sections of it as a class. The students could take a practice written
test in class or on-line. Also, the teacher could suggest driving school’s for
the students. It is also suggested to discuss the consequences of driving
without a license, which is a common practice among immigrants.


   •   Motorist
   •   Vehicle
   •   Renewal
   •   Facility
   •   Organ donor registry

Unit Two: Public Services                                                    28
Computer Activity                               Name: _________________
Secretary of State Driver Facilities

Task: Go to the Illinois Secretary of State’s website, and find out
information about requirements for driver’s licenses, the driver facility
nearest you, and the hours of operation

   1.   Go to
   2.   Click on “Services” on the top of the screen
   3.   Click on “Services for Motorists”
   4.   Scroll down until you come to “New to Illinois Driving” and click.
   5.   Click on “Quick Facility Checklist”

   6. Write down the five requirements for drivers 18 years and older to
      get a license.

   7) Find the driver facility closest to you. Scroll to the bottom of the
      page and click on “Find Your Nearest Facility”.
   8) Click on the area of Illinois that you live in to find the closest branch.
   9) Then, click the town, or part of town, that you live in.

   10) What is the address of this branch?



   11) What are the hours of operation?



Unit Two: Public Services                                                      29
   12) Look at the services available at your driver facility (located on the
       right side), and circle “True” or “False” next to the question below.

       At your driver facility, you can:

       a) Buy a car                        True      False
       b) Register to vote                 True      False
       c) Renew your license               True      False
       d) Register to donate organs        True      False
       e) Get your car fixed               True      False

   13) Click on “Basic Fees”, located on the right side of the screen.

   14) What is the cost of the following:

           a) a basic driver’s license:

           b) a five-year identification card, issued after 1/1/05:

           c) an original vehicle title:

           d) the renewal fee for Standard License Plates (Passenger):

Unit Two: Public Services                                                       30
                   Unit Three: Retail Services

       1.      Business Hours
       2.      Department Store Scavenger Hunt
       3.      Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt
       4.      Calling Local Businesses I (Listening Task)
       5.      Calling Local Businesses II (Speaking Task)
       6.      Computer Task: Searching for Retail Items Online

Unit Three: Retail Services                                       31
                              1. BUSINESS HOURS
                               Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity is designed to familiarize the students with the
neighborhood near the school, practice time and addresses, and improve
their map skills. It can be used with a low level class. There is a space to
insert a map of the neighborhood. This simple map should have the
businesses that the students need to visit marked clearly.

PREPARATION: The students should be familiar with time and the
abbreviations for the days of the week. Before assigning the task, the
teacher can bring in example signs from stores, or the class can visit some
stores next to the school together. The teacher should visit the stores
before sending the students to ensure the hours are posted.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This community activity is only an example and will
need to be modified for an individual class in regards to the level of the
students and the location of the school. For very low level students, this
activity can be completed as a class or in pairs. The teacher may choose to
only use questions regarding the address and/or the hours of operation.
Another option is to ask one question for each business. It is not necessary
for the students to find all of the information for every business.
       For higher level students, send half of the students to several stores
on the map and send the other half of the students to different stores.
When they return with their information, the students can share what they

  • abbreviations for days of the week
  • am and pm
  • closed

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                 32
Community Activity                            Name _______________________
Business Hours

Task: Go to stores in the neighborhood that are marked on the map and
answer the following questions for each business on the map.

                      Insert local map here

For each business you visit, answer the following questions:

1. What is the name of the business? ____________________________

2. What is the address? _____________________________________

3. What does this business sell? _______________________________

4. What are the hours of operation? _____________________________

5. Are there any sales or special prices? If yes, explain.

After the Activity
1. Are all the stores open on the weekends? If not, which ones are
closed on the weekends?

      2. Did you go into any stores? If yes, what questions did you ask?

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                  33
                          Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity is designed to give students an opportunity to ask
typical questions and read prices when shopping for items in a department

PREPARATION: Find a department store that is convenient to take a class
trip to. In our program, we took a trip to Sears, but this could be done at
any department store or discount store, such as Target or WalMart. The
teacher may alter or introduce this activity according to the particular
store. For example, the store may have multiple floors or just different
departments. In a smaller store, the location of an item may be discussed in
terms of what aisle it is in. The questions ask “where is/are . . .” which may
be interpreted as what floor, what department, what aisle, or where in the
store (back/front of store, next to some department). The teacher needs
to make this clear before sending the students to the store.
       This activity can accompany a unit on prices, clothing, and/or furniture
and appliances. Students should practice this vocabulary before the trip.
Teachers can also bring in store flyers for a variety of reading and
vocabulary activities.

RECOMMENDATIONS: The activity is designed to be done as a class trip
with students working in pairs or small groups. However, it could be
modified to have students do it for homework. This is a good low-level

  • Excuse me, where is the shoe department?
  • Excuse me, where are the ties?
  • How much is/are…?
  • This/that/these/those
  • Prices
  • Sizes
  • It’s/They’re too big/too small…

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                   34
Community Activity                    NAMES: _____________________
Department Store Scavenger Hunt

Task: Work with a partner. Find the information.

1. How many floors are there in the store?   _______________________

2. Where are the children’s pajamas? _____________________________
   Are the pajamas on sale? YES     NO
   How much are they? $____________

3. Where are the women's sunglasses? ___________________________
   Are the sunglasses on sale? YES NO
   How much are they? $____________

4. Where are the men's watches? _______________________________
   Are the watches on sale? YES    NO
   How much are they? $____________

5. Where is the shoe department? ______________________________
Find some shoes that you like. Try on the shoes. Ask for your size.
Do the shoes fit? YES NO              Are they comfortable? YES NO
How much are they? $______________

6. Where are the bath towels? _________________________________
What is the price range?      From $__________ to $____________

7. Where are the lamps? ______________________________________
What is the price range?     From $__________ to $____________

8. Where are the babies’ cribs? _________________________________
What is the price range?        From $__________ to $____________

After the activity:
1. Did you try anything on? Did you buy anything?

2. Did you understand the person you talked to? Did you ask them to repeat

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                  35
                    3. GROCERY STORE SCAVENGER HUNT
                            Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Grocery shopping is part of everyone’s daily life. The students
must know where to find things in the store and be able to ask for something
that they can’t find. They will practice food names, containers and
quantities of food (bottle, bag, bunch), and grocery store organization. Also,
it is helpful to everyone to find out which store is cheaper.

PREPARATION: This activity can supplement a unit on food, quantities and
containers, or count/noncount nouns. The teacher should visit two different
grocery stores and find each item on the list, making sure the brand and
quantity is available. Discuss the organization of the grocery store and
phrases to ask for help.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Go to the store at an hour when the store will not
be extremely busy. For lower level students, split the class in half and send
them to two local stores. Give them a list with common items. For higher
level students, they can take this list to the grocery store they use and
complete the list themselves. Have the students bring the prices to class
and discuss prices with another student. For lower levels, keep the list
simple. For more advanced students, include some obscure items which
would require the students to ask an employee for help.
Extension activities:
   • Have the students purchase certain ingredients, and then make a
       simple dish to share with other classes, for example, a spinach dip.
   • Bring sales circulars or coupons to class to read, and then have
       students find the items.
   • Read nutrition labels as a class activity, and then have students buy
       two similar items and compare the nutrition information.

  • Excuse me, where is the . . . ?
  • aisle, shelf
  • top, bottom, left, right, center
  • carton, roll, stick, head, bunch, slice
  • lb = pound, oz = ounce

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                  36
Community Activity                          Name __________________
Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt

Task: This activity will compare the prices at two different stores, and help
you discover which one is cheaper. Your teacher will divide you into two
groups. One group will go to one store. The second group will go to a
different store. With a partner, look for the following products and write
down the prices.
      When you finish writing down prices, go to page two, and circle the
services that the store offers. When you return to class, sit with a
classmate that went to the opposite store and share the information that
you found.

PRODUCT                       Store #1              Store #2
turkey breast – 1 lb.
american cheese – 1 lb
bunch of broccoli
head of lettuce
potatoes – 5 lb. Bag
boneless chicken breast
– 1 lb.
ground beef – 1 lb
bag of sugar
box of Cheerios
Folger’s coffee
– 11.5 oz can
white rice – 10 lb
can of Del Monte corn
Bounty paper towels
roll of Reynold’s
aluminum foil
bag of Ruffles potato
carton of eggs – dozen
Imperial butter
– 4 sticks
Tony’s frozen pizza
Kraft cheese – 16 slices

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                 37
                              Services at a Grocery Store

      Most large supermarkets have services for the customers in addition
to food shopping. Look around the store for the following. Circle the
services you find.

   a.   plastic bag recycling
   b.   blood pressure machines
   c.   pharmacy
   d.   florist
   e.   stamps
   f.   bank services
   g.   change machine
   h.   photo development
   i.   other ___________________________________

After the Activity:

   1. Overall, which store is cheaper?

   2. Did you have any problems finding a product? If yes, which one?

   3. Did you speak English to anyone on your trip? If yes, to whom?

Unit Three: Retail Services                                             38
Unit Three: Retail Services   39
                 4. CALLING LOCAL BUSINESSES I (Listening Task)
                            Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This is a telephone activity designed to help the students
practice time and days of the week. The locations chosen all have recordings
of their store hours. This activity requires no speaking skills, so it is very
low risk. The students may call numerous times to listen for the information.

PREPARATION: This activity can be used when discussing time, days of the
week, and simple present tense. To prepare, the teacher should call the
establishments first to find out the options that exist so they can be
discussed with the students. Before assigning this task, the teacher can
bring in recordings of telephone conversations so the students can practice
listening for specific information. It should be stressed that it is not
necessary to understand every word of the recording. The students should
have mastered time and days of the week before assigning this activity.

RECOMMENDATIONS: If there is a phone at the school, encourage
students to call during break time or after class. If the students are
hesitant to call, use a speaker phone at the school. The teacher can listen
with the student and help him/her listen for particular information. Discuss
the students’ experiences and problems. For lower level students, the
teacher can choose locations that do not offer many options (for this, press
1 . . .) For higher levels, the call can be more complicated, such as calling a
theater for movie times. If the class has access to computers, this activity
may be completed via the Internet.

  • days of the week
  • through (Monday through Friday)
  • weekend
  • hours of operation
  • press 1/2/0/ pound (#)/star (*)
  • options

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                   40
Telephone Activity                           Name:__________________
Listening for Hours of Operation

Task: Call businesses and write their hours of operation. If you do not
understand the message, call the number again. Continue to call until you
understand the information.

1. Call Sears. The phone number is 312-373-6000. Press 1.
       a) What time is Sears open today? _________________________
       b) What time is Sears open tomorrow? ______________________
       c) What is the Internet address for Sears? __________________
       d) How many times did you call the number? ___________________

2. Call Art Institute of Chicago. The number is 312-443-3600.
Press 2. Press 1.
       a) What do I do if I want directions? _______________________
       b) What time is the museum open on Tuesday? ________________
       c) What are the museum’s hours on the weekends? _____________
       d) What days are the museum closed? _______________________

3. Call Marshall Field’s. The number is 312-781-1000. Press 1.
       a) What do I do if I want a job? ___________________________
       b) What time is the store open on Tuesday? __________________
       c) What days are the sale? _______________________________
       d) Where is Marshall Field’s located? _______________________

After the Activity:

1. Did you need to call the numbers more than one time?

2. What were some options the recording gave?

3. For any of these places, can you talk to an operator if you want?

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                 41
             5. CALLING LOCAL BUSINESSES II (Speaking Task)
                           Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity is designed to give the student more confidence in
using the telephone. It is more high risk than listening to recorded
information, but it is very controlled conversation. The focus of this
activity is inquiring about business hours.

PREPARATION: The students practice conversations in pairs during class.
These exercises should prepare the students to make the calls. Since this
is not a recording, but a live person, the students should be prepared for a
variety of responses. Have the students listen to several recorded
conversations. Also, if they can’t understand the operator, they should
politely say “Thank You” and hang up.

RECOMMENDATIONS: If the students need practice before trying this
activity, have the students call the teacher or the school and ask a simple
question. The teacher may also make the call with the students using a
speaker phone.

  • press 1/2/0/pound(#)/star(*)
  • What time does the store open/close?
  • What are the stores hours on Monday/Tuesday/ . . . .?
  • Can you repeat that please?
  • Excuse me?

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                42
Telephone Activity                     Name: ____________________
Asking about Hours of Operation

Task: Call the businesses and ask the operator for specific information.

1. Call Jewel-Osco. This store does not have a recording. The number is
       a) What time does the store close today? ___________________

2. Call Kmart. This store does not have a recording. The number is
       a) What time does the store close today? ___________________
       b) What are the store hours tomorrow? ____________________

3. Call Home Depot. This store does not have a recording. The number is
       a) What are the store hours on Sunday? ____________________
       b) Is there a 24 hour store in the city? ____________________

After the Activity:

1. Was the operator difficult to understand?

2. We practiced conversations in class. Did the operator respond in the
same way? Did she or he say something different?

3. How did you end the conversation?

4. New words/phrases:

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                43
                        Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: The Internet is a place to locate information, communicate with
friends and family, and shop. This activity is designed to introduce the
students to the Craig’s list website, which is a listing of local items for sale,
housing for rent, and employment, among other things. This site is basically
an online classified section for large cities in the United States. The
students will become more familiar with the internet and find a useful tool
to buy used or new items from people in their neighborhood.

PREPARATION: This activity can be incorporated into a variety of themes,
from shopping to housing. Prior to taking the class to the computer lab, the
students should look at a copy of a listing from Craig’s list. For lower level
students, or students who are new to the internet, it is also recommended to
print out the Craig’s list homepage and discuss the different headings.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Because many of the contact information for the
items require an e-mail, it is suggested to set up e-mail accounts prior to
doing this activity. Encourage those students who are seriously looking for
an item, such as a bed or children’s clothes, to contact the seller. This
activity can also be revised such that the students are selling their items.

  • o.b.o. = or best offer
  • stroller

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                     44
Computer Activity             Name: ________________________
Searching for Retail Information Online

Task: Go to the Craigslist’s Chicago website and find an item, such as
furniture or a bicycle, that you want to buy. Write down the cost of the
item and the contact information.

1. Go to Under “for sale”, click on “furniture”.
Search the listings for a sofa and read the listings for at least five sofas.
Choose your favorite one and answer these questions.
      a) How much does the sofa cost? __________________________
      b) What is the date of the listing? _________________________
      c) How do you contact the seller? __________________________

2. Go back to the Chicago Craiglist’s homepage. Under “for sale”, click on
“baby + kids”. Search the listings for a stroller and read the listings for at
least five strollers. Choose the stroller that sounds like the best offer.
       a) How much does the stroller cost? ________________________
       b) What is the date of the listing? _________________________
       c) How do you contact the seller? __________________________

3. Go back to the Chicago Craiglist’s homepage. Choose one item that you
want to search for. It could be a grill, a bike, a computer, a guitar, or a
microwave. Search for whatever item that you want and answer the
following questions.
       a) What item did you search for? __________________________
       b) How much does the item cost? ___________________________
       c) What is the date of the listing? __________________________
       d) How do you contact the seller? __________________________
       e) Are you going to try and buy this item? Why or why not?

After the Activity:
1. Did you contact anyone about an item listed?

2. Do you think that you will use this website to purchase something in the
future? Why or why not?

Unit Three: Retail Services                                                   45
Unit Three: Retail Services   46
                       Unit Four: Housing

       1.     Classified Housing Advertisements
       2.     Attending an Open House
       3.     Computer Task: Calculating New Home Costs
       4.     Computer Task: Renting an Apartment Online
       5.     Computer Task: Comparing Cities

Unit Four: Housing                                         47
                         Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Finding and renting apartments is a necessary life skill. Many
students rely on others to assist them in doing this, but our intermediate
students can begin to learn the skills and language to do it independently.
This activity introduces students to the classified ads, which are rich in
useful vocabulary and abbreviations. Students also practice common
questions to ask about apartments for rent.

PREPARATION: Start with general discussions about housing: “What kind
of house or apartment do you live in?” “Do you like your neighborhood?”
“Are you looking for a new apartment?” “How do people search for
apartments?” “How does housing in this area compare to housing in your
home country?”
      Students can brainstorm a list of questions for inquiring about
apartments: “Where is it located?” “How many bedrooms does it have?”
“Does the rent include utilities?” Etc.
      Teachers can ask students to bring in housing classified ads or they
can bring in a stack for students to use. The class should go through some
ads together before the students find their own.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Students may be reluctant to make a phone call if
they are not really looking for an apartment. If they are uncomfortable
making the call, they could practice in a role-play in the class or they could
call the teacher or another student at home and role-play. Students who are
looking for apartments should be encouraged to make the phone call, which is
relatively low-risk.

  • “I’m calling about the apartment that you advertised. Could you tell
  • “Would you like to see the apartment?” “Are you interested in seeing
    the apartment?”
  • “It’s not exactly what I’m looking for. I’m looking for something less
    expensive/bigger/closer to my job…”
  • “Thanks for the information. I’ll get back to you if I’m interested.”

Unit Four: Housing                                                           48
Community Activity            NAME____________________________
Classified Housing Advertisements

Task: Get a copy of a newspaper in your area that has housing ads, and
after you find several apartments that look good, call for information.

1. Pick up a copy of the local newspaper. Find the housing classified section.

2 . Before you read, rank in order (1,2,3,4…) the importance of the following:

____ location        ____ price        ____ pets allowed          ____ size

____ heat incl.      ____ floor        ____ near trans.           ____ other:

3. How many bedrooms do you want? ______________

4. What is your price range? From $___________ to $____________

5. What do the following abbreviations mean?

         apt __________           bldg. __________         A/C __________

         BR __________            hwfl __________          incl. __________

6. Find three ads that are good for you. Write the information.

                Location (address or      Price                Other
Apt. 1

Apt. 2

Apt. 3

Unit Four: Housing                                                               49
7. Write new abbreviations you found:

8. Write new vocabulary words you learned:

9. Which apartment of the three do you think is the best? Why?

10. What is the contact information? (name and phone number)

11. Call the phone number and ask at least three questions about the
apartment for rent. Before you call, write your questions down:

       Question 1: ___________________________________________

       Question 2: ___________________________________________

       Question 3: ___________________________________________

After the phone call:

1. Did you talk to a person or did you leave a message?

2. What information did you find out about the apartment? Write it here:

3. Do you think you would be interested in this apartment? Why or why not?

Unit Four: Housing                                                       50
Unit Four: Housing   51
                     2. ATTENDING AN OPEN HOUSE
                           Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: All of us, including our students, are curious when we see houses
put on the market for sale. “How much is it?” we instantly want to know as
we pass by it. “What do the bathrooms look like?” we wonder, or, “How big
is the kitchen?” Open houses offer us one of those rare opportunities to be
respectable snoops, and they can be a great chance for students to see the
inside of a home, talk to a realtor, and collect printed material about the
house. This activity involves visiting an open house and talking to the realtor
or home owner. A successful visit to an open house can do much to make an
immigrant feel that he or she is welcome in the community.

PREPARATION: This activity can really only work well with some advance
work by the teacher. Find out what open houses are in town - they can be
located on, or in the local newspaper. Find open houses that are
in neighborhoods your students are likely to live in, and are modest in price
and appearance. Make a list of the open houses and have students
themselves decide which ones to visit – making sure that thirty ESL
students do not descend on a one-bedroom condo all at once!
       Realtors and home-owners are generally quite receptive to the polite
visitor who is not in the market yet, but wants to see what is available.
Students should be informed about the “culture” of open houses, in which
anyone who is respectful is welcome to come in and look around, and ask
questions. They should also be assured that they can be honest about their
lack of readiness to buy a home, and even about the fact that they are
students doing an assignment; it’s very unlikely that they will be rebuffed.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This exercise would be difficult for a beginner-
level student, but an intermediate or advanced student should be able to ask
the questions necessary to complete the task. It should take about an hour.

  • “May we look around?”
  • “We are not ready to buy a house yet, but we’d like to see what’s
  • “Do you have any information about this house?”
  • “ Do you have a business card I could have?”

Unit Four: Housing                                                            52
Community Activity                      Name: ________________
Attending an Open House

Task: Visit an open house in your town, and try to find out the following
information. Some answers you can get just by looking around; others you
will have to ask about.

       1. What street is the open house on?________________________

       2. What is the name of the real estate company selling the house?
       (There is usually a sign outside.) ____________________________

       3. What is the price of the house? _________________________

       4. What appliances does the house have? (dishwasher, washing
       machine, dryer, microwave) _______________________________

       5. Is the stove gas or electric? ____________________________

       6. How many bedrooms does the house have? __________________

       7. Does the house have central air? _________________________

       8. If this is a condominium, how much is the monthly assessment? ___

After the visit:

           1. What are some things that you liked about this house?

           2. Is there anything that you didn’t like about it?

           3. Would you like to live in this house? Explain

           4. How did you feel as you walked around this house?

Unit Four: Housing                                                          53
                     3. CALCULATING NEW HOME COSTS
                              Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Buying a home or a condo is perhaps the chief symbol of an
immigrant’s “arrival” in the United States. Of course, it’s unlikely that many
newcomers with limited English will be at all close to realizing this dream,
but figuring out how much a mortgage could cost may be a valuable exercise
for them. In times when interest rates are low, many students may be
surprised to discover that a long-term mortgage would not be extravagantly
more costly than the rent they’re paying. At the very least, this exercise
provides information that everyone is curious to know: can I afford a home?

PREPARATION: There is much that can be done to prepare students for
this fairly simple activity, especially in the way of class discussion. Lead
students in a conversation about what the average price of a condominium or
house would be in the area, and also what average rents are. Talk about
some of the steps involved in buying a house: talking to a realtor, getting
pre-approved for a mortgage, going to open houses. Find out if any students
in the class already own a home, and ask them to discuss the process. Of
course, for many students, the possibility of buying a home is slim or non-
existent, but the exercise can have value as a way of learning about housing
in the U.S., and also as a computer skills task.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This task would be appropriate for intermediate
and advanced level students who have basic familiarity with computer usage.
It is a fairly short exercise; it will only take them ten or fifteen minutes to
figure out mortgage costs, but the whole activity might take them about

                            USEFUL LANGUAGE
   •   Long-term loan
   •   Mortgage
   •   Interest rates
   •   30-year fixed mortgage
   •   Home Finance
   •   Down Payment
   •   Affordable
   •   Closing Costs

Unit Four: Housing                                                            54
Computer Activity                     Name: _________________
Calculating New Home Costs

In the United States, many people own houses or condominiums. Many
people consider it the American dream to own their own home. The prices
always seem very high, but if you have a long-term loan, such as one for 30
years, your monthly payment may be lower than the rent you pay for an
apartment. For example, if you buy a condominium for $150,000, and the
interest rate for 30 years is 6%, your monthly payment will be about $900.
(This does not include extra costs for taxes, insurance, etc.)

Task: Follow the directions below to find out if you can afford to buy a
condominium or house.

   1. On your computer, go to

   2. On the top of the screen, click on “Home Finance”

   3. Now click on “Mortgage”, which is also near the top of the screen

   4. On the “Mortgage” screen, in the upper left-hand corner, it will tell
      you today’s mortgage rates. Write down the rate for a 30-year fixed
      mortgage. (This means that it will take you 30 years to pay for the

   5. On the “Mortgage” screen, go to #2 Check, and click on “Calculate
      Your Mortgage Payments”

   6. In the Mortgage Calculator, write in the amount of a loan (Example:
      $100,000, $125,000, $150,000, etc.). Then write in today’s interest
      rate. Click “Go”

   7. Scroll down until you see the monthly amount. Write down the amount
      you see.

   8. Does this seem affordable to you? (Remember! When you buy a
      condominium or house, you have to pay extra for insurance and taxes.
      That can add a couple of hundred dollars to your monthly payments.

Unit Four: Housing                                                        55
       There are also closing costs when you buy a home, and the interest
       rates change every day.) If buying a condominium or house seems
       affordable, you should talk to a real estate agent and find out if
       buying a home is a possibility for you.

   9. Go back to the homepage ( and see if you can find
      some homes in your price range. Type in your zip code, your minimum
      and maximum amounts (Example: $100,000-$150,000), and the
      number of bedrooms and bathrooms that you want. Can you find any
      homes for sale in your neighborhood?

   10. Write down the address of a home that you find for sale in your




   11. How much does this house cost? ___________________________

   12. Write down some features that this house has – number of bedrooms,

       central air, garage, etc. __________________________________


   13. Go back to the mortgage calculator and type in the price of the house.
       Find out how much the monthly payment would be. (Most people put a
       down payment on a house when they buy it, so that their monthly
       payment is less.)

Unit Four: Housing                                                          56
Unit Four: Housing   57
                     4. RENTING AN APARTMENT ONLINE
                             Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: One of the most important things for immigrants to learn is how
and where to search for information. And one area where good information
is essential to immigrants is apartment-searching. Complaints about bad
landlords and high rents are a constant among a population that is less well-
informed than it can be, and this online activity will help students to
understand what they should be looking for, and what they can expect to pay
for the kind of apartment that is in their price range. This exercise, like
the first exercise in this unit, will also help students become familiar with
the commonly-used terminology and abbreviations seen in apartment

PREPARATION: Begin by finding out from students what they need in an
apartment. Get students to make a list of things they would require, for
example two bedrooms, heat included in the rent, etc. After that, have a
discussion about what students can expect to find in the rental market.
What would one expect to pay for a one-bedroom? An apartment with
central air? One with a parking space? Also, what are the sorts of features
that are common to most rental units in their price range. Should they
expect heat to be included, a separate dining room, etc? Sharing these
ideas may help motivate students in bad rental situations to make a change.
       Next, offer students a list of abbreviations and phrases that are
frequently-used in apartment classifieds. (The first exercise in this unit has
such a list.) See if they can turn the abbreviations into words.
       Finally, discuss the process of searching for an apartment. Word-of-
mouth is perhaps the most common method, but what about searching in
newspapers and on the Internet? Do students feel these methods are
trustworthy? What are the steps involved from the initial perusal of the
newspaper or website to signing the lease? The better students understand
this process, the better-equipped they will be to do the exercise.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This exercise is for intermediate and advanced-
level students, and can be completed in about forty five minutes. There are
also many other websites where one can search for apartments. In the
Chicago area, the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Tribune websites have
many such ads.

Unit Four: Housing                                                           58
Computer Activity                     Name: _________________
Renting an Apartment Online

There are many places to search online for an apartment to rent. A popular
place to search for housing in Chicago is the Reader, where you can do many
things: rent an apartment, search for a job, buy furniture or other things.

Task: Follow the directions below to search for an apartment.

   1. Go to

   2. Click on “CLASSIFIEDS” (located on the left side)

   3. Go to Housing for Rent/Sale

   4. Follow the directions on the left side to get a list of apartments.
      Choose the kind of apartment you want to find, the zip code, and the
      minimum and maximum amount you want to pay. (Hint: Keep your
      minimum and maximum amounts close, for example $700-$750, or
      your list will be too long. If you get too many ads, make your two
      amounts smaller, for example $700-$725.)

   5. Click on “Search”

   6. You will see a list of apartments for rent. Read two of the
      advertisements and answer the following questions about each one.

       Apartment #1:

           a) What is the rent?

           b) What is the address of the apartment? If there is no address,
              what neighborhood is the apartment in? (If you would like to
              find out where a neighborhood is located, go to:

           c) What does this apartment have that looks good to you?

Unit Four: Housing                                                            59
           d) Is there anything that you don’t like about this apartment?

           e) If you want to rent the apartment, how do you contact the

       Apartment #2:

           a) What is the rent?

           b) What is the address of the apartment? If there is no address,
              what neighborhood is the apartment in? (If you would like to
              find out where a neighborhood is located, go to:

           c) What does this apartment have that looks good to you?

           d) Is there anything that you don’t like about this apartment?

           e) If you want to rent the apartment, how do you contact the

Unit Four: Housing                                                          60
Unit Four: Housing   61
                         5. COMPARING CITIES
                           Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This Internet activity is designed to have students compare
living in different cities. This can be relevant to students’ lives if they are
considering moving to a another city. Even if that is not the case, students
find it very interesting to compare various aspects of cities.

PREPARATION: This activity is well-suited to complement a unit on housing
and also a grammar unit on comparative forms. Students can start with a
general discussion comparing cities, such as their hometown with the city
they live in now. Cities can be compared on the basis of population, weather,
cost of living, etc. The teacher should ask students to name a U.S. city that
they would like to live in or that they are curious about.
       Students need to be familiar with using the internet, such as scrolling
down a page and moving the cursor.

RECOMMENDATIONS: If students are not very confident in using the
Internet, the teacher can do a sample beforehand and print it out, using the
sample as a reading activity in class. Then have students go to the lab and
compare their own two cities. This activity lends itself very well to a
review/practice of comparative forms once the students have completed the
computer activity. The students could do other follow-up activities, such as
locating the cities on the classroom map or writing a comparative paper.
Higher-level students could be assigned to do more research on the city,
which they could present to the class.

  • 2-letter state abbreviations: IL, CA, TX…
  • Temperature Range
  • Median Income
  • Crime Index

Unit Four: Housing                                                            62
Computer activity                          NAME __________________
Comparing Cities

Task: For this activity, you will compare two cities.

1. I would like to compare _________________ and _________________

2. Type in the address

3. Click on “Moving” on the top of the screen. Then click on the “Salary
Calculator” on the left of the screen. Enter your salary, choose specific
cities and your housing preference (own or rent). Click on “calculate”. Write
the results:

          If you make       $_______________
                            (your salary)

          Living in         _______________

          You would need to make $_______________

          Living in         _______________

4. Go Back. Look at “Find a neighborhood”. Click on “city comparison”.
Select the country (United States or Canada) and state of your origin
country. Select the country and state of the destination country. Click
“next”. Scroll down and click on the city names.

5. What 2 cities did you compare?

Cities:                 _______________        _______________

Population:             _______________        _______________

Median Income:          _______________        _______________

Unit Four: Housing                                                          63
Unemployment         _______________        _______________

Crime index          _______________        _______________

Winter temp.
range                _______________        _______________

Summer temp.
range                _______________        _______________

Snowfall             _______________        _______________

3 bdrm house         _______________        _______________

2 bdrm apt           _______________        _______________

sales tax            _______________        _______________

expenses per
child                _______________        _______________

Write any other interesting information you find here:

Which city do you think is a better place to live? Why?

Unit Four: Housing                                            64
                        Unit Five: Health

       1.      Visiting the Doctor
       2.      Going to the Pharmacy
       3.      Going to a Health Fair
       4.      Safety in the Home
       5.      Computer Task: Health Information Online

Unit Five: Health                                         65
                       1. VISITING THE DOCTOR
                            Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: All parents take their children to the doctor, whether it is to
their regular family doctor or to a health clinic. In the latter case
especially, parents may not speak the language of the doctor; and, indeed,
may have different doctors each time. This assignment gives parents – and
the parenting class instructor – the chance to assess health care needs, and
also helps the parents to think about how to communicate with their family
health practitioner.

PREPARATION: Discuss who in the class has a regular family physician, and
who goes to a health clinic when medical attention is required. (This exercise
can also allow literacy programs to help children get Kid Care, by identifying
those children in need of coverage.) Have students make a list of the sort
of questions one might ask while at the doctor’s office. For example, if the
doctor prescribes medicine, what are the possible side effects? How long
should the child be on the medication? Parents can work in pairs for this
exercise, writing down possible questions.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Parents will turn these forms in at different
times, but this allows the class to return to the health care theme
repeatedly. Each time a form comes back, talk about the parent’s
experience with the class. What vocabulary came up during the visit that
could be useful to all parents? What were the steps that the parent took,
from making the appointment to getting the medicine? Was the doctor one
that could be recommended to others?
       It could also be useful to the class as students return forms to make
a list of doctor’s offices and health clinics that serve low-income families
well, and to give students access to this regularly-updated list.

USEFUL LANGUAGE: Most ESL teachers do entire units on health care,
and the vocabulary for such units ranges from simple words like body parts
to complex descriptions of illness. At a minimum, give students a survival
course for doctor’s offices. Also, encourage them to ask questions: “Does
this medicine have side-effects?” “Can I call you if I don’t feel better?” “Is
there anything I shouldn’t do?”

Unit Five: Health                                                            66
Community Activity                    Name:_________________________
Visiting the Doctor

Task 1:        Answer these questions about health care. Circle YES or NO

1) Do you have health insurance for yourself?                         YES   NO

2) If you have children, do they have health insurance?               YES   NO

3) Do you know where a health clinic is in your neighborhood?         YES   NO

4) If YES, what is the name of the health clinic?____________________

5) Where is it located? _______________________________________

6) When you visit this health clinic, how much does it usually cost? _______

7) Have a conversation with one or two of your classmates. If you do not
have insurance, or know of a health clinic, ask your classmates where an
inexpensive health clinic in your town is located. Find out if they can
recommend a good doctor. If your children do not have health insurance,
ask your classmates or your teacher about KidCare.

Task Two: After you visit a doctor, answer the following questions:

1) What is the name of your doctor? _____________________________

2) Where is the doctor’s office located? __________________________

3) How did you make an appointment with your doctor? (In person, by
telephone?) ________________________________________________

4) How long did you have to wait to get an appointment? _______________

5) How did you pay for this visit? Circle one

Insurance            Free Health Clinic         I paid regular fees         Other

Unit Five: Health                                                                67
6) Why did you visit the doctor? (Answer only if you feel comfortable.)




7) What are some of the things the doctor told you to do? (Again, answer
only if you are comfortable talking about this.)



8) Did you make a follow-up appointment to see the doctor? ____________

9) Could you recommend this doctor to other students? _______________

Unit Five: Health                                                         68
Unit Five: Health   69
                     2. GOING TO THE PHARMACY
                          Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Students often mention health-related communication as a top
concern. This activity involves sending them to a pharmacist to ask
questions. It also gives them practice in using a resource (i.e. their local
pharmacist) that might be useful to them in the future.

PREPARATION: Teachers should start with health-related vocabulary such
as parts of the body and ailments and symptoms. This is followed by
discussions about pharmacies and medicines. Students can compare their
experiences here and in their native countries. Teachers can bring in
samples of over-the-counter medicines. Students need to practice the
pronunciation of common medicines. They can review ailments, symptoms and
side effects by reading these containers.
        Finally, students should complete steps 1-4 before going to the
pharmacy, and practice with role-plays.

RECOMMENDATIONS: If many students live in the same neighborhood,
assigning a pharmacy might be a good idea to avoid any one pharmacist being
asked questions by too many different students. Also, teachers should be
sensitive to privacy concerns when discussing health; some students may not
want to share any real problems they are having.
       A related activity is reading medicine labels on prescription medicines
to understand abbreviations and dosages. More advanced students can also
read about and discuss prescription drug costs and programs in the U.S.

  • Parts of the body: head, nose, throat…
  • Ailments: cold, sore throat, stomachache…
  • Symptoms: cough, runny nose…
  • Side effects: drowsiness…
  • Warnings: Do not take if you are pregnant/ while driving…
  • Dosages: pill, tablet, capsule, tsp., drop…
  • Questions: “What can I take for…?”
          “What do you recommend for…?”
          “What’s the difference between…?”
          “Is this recommended for children?”

Unit Five: Health                                                            70
Community Activity                    Name _____________________
Going to the Pharmacy

Task: Visit a local pharmacy to get advice about medicine.

Discussion questions:
   1. Do you generally use medicine or go to the doctor if you are sick?
   2. Have you ever avoided going to the doctor or talking to a pharmacist
      because you lack confidence in your English?

1. Decide which pharmacy to go to:
                              (name & address)

2. Decide which ailment you will ask about:
                         (example: cough, allergies, etc.)

3. Write down at least two questions you will ask the pharmacist.



4. Write down phrases you will use if you can’t understand what the
   pharmacist is saying.



5. Go to the pharmacy. Ask the pharmacist your questions.

Unit Five: Health                                                            71
After the activity:

1. Did the pharmacist understand your question?       YES     NO

2. Did you understand the pharmacist’s answer?        YES     NO

3. What did the pharmacist recommend? (Write it here if you want to share
your answer.)


4. New words I learned from this activity:

Unit Five: Health                                                       72
Unit Five: Health   73
                      3. GOING TO A HEALTH FAIR
                            Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity is geared toward familiarizing students with free
health services offered in their community. It also gives them a chance to
get important health information for themselves and their families and to
speak English with health professionals.

PREPARATION: The teacher will need to find information on free health
fairs or workshops in the community. At our agency (Asian Human Services),
we are fortunate to have one or two health fairs annually on-site. This
information can be found in local newspapers or through local hospitals or
public health agencies. More advanced students can be given the task of
finding this information on their own and bringing the results back to class.
       The teacher will of course need to go over the vocabulary on the form
to be sure the students understand this health vocabulary. Students can
work in pairs or as a class in brainstorming possible questions to ask at the
health fair.

RECOMMENDATIONS: At our agency, we have gone during class time as a
group. In other cases, it will need to be assigned as homework. Teachers
need to be sensitive to students’ privacy; some may not want to share the
information they found out at the health fair.
      Related activities can include having guest speakers come to the
school to give presentations on health concerns of most interest to students.

USEFUL LANGUAGE: In the assignment itself are many terms that are
used during health fairs. Reviews these words and phrases with your

Unit Five: Health                                                           74
Community Activity
Going to a Health Fair                NAME ___________________

Task: Visit a health fair in your community, and answer questions about the
health fair.

I will attend a health fair on____________________________________
                                            (date and time)
at _______________________________________________________

Before you go:

1. Choose at least 2 tests/shots that you want to have. Circle them.

       Flu shot                              Dental screening (teeth)

       Cholesterol test                      Vision screening (eyes)

       Blood pressure test                   Osteoporosis test (bones)

       Diabetes test (blood sugar)

       STD’s/HIV (sexually-
       Transmitted diseases)

2. Choose at least 2 health issues that you want information about. Circle

       Stop smoking                   Developmental disabilities

       Asthma                         Alcohol/Drugs

       Nutrition/weight loss          Women’s health:     menopause

       Diabetes                                           birth control

       HIV/AIDS                                           prenatal care

       Children’s health                                  breast cancer

       Mental health/depression

Unit Five: Health                                                             75
3. Think of at least 2 questions that you would like to ask a health care


After the activity:

1. What shots or tests did you have?______________________________

2. What health information (brochures) did you pick up? _______________


3. Did you ask your two questions?                  YES      NO

4. If yes, did they understand your questions?      YES      NO

5. Did you understand the answers?                  YES      NO

6. Write the answer to your question(s) if you would like to share the
information with your class:



Unit Five: Health                                                           76
Unit Five: Health   77
                        4. SAFETY IN THE HOME
                           Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Safety is one of the most important topics for students. This
activity gives students an opportunity to talk about safety and to evaluate
what precautions they are taking in their own homes. They will also be able
to take steps to make their home safer.

PREPARATION: Go over safety-related vocabulary and bring in pictures or
realia (such as a smoke detector or fire extinguisher) and talk about
students’ individual safety concerns. Find information that clearly explains
the need for such items as fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors,
and other safety devices.

RECOMMENDATIONS:               After sharing their answers about safety
precautions in their homes, students should talk about what areas they need
to improve. Depending on students’ responses, this activity could easily lead
to a task where students find out where to get a smoke detector/fire
extinguisher/carbon monoxide detector/child-proofing devices, etc. and how
much they cost. Also, if students do not have a fire escape plan, have them
make one either in class or at home together with their families.
      Other related activities include having a guest speaker come to the
school, such as from the police or fire department, the 911 emergency
center, or from a local community policing/neighborhood watch group.

  • Smoke Detector
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Fire Escape

Unit Five: Health                                                           78
Community Activity
Safety in the Home                    Name _____________________

Task: Answer questions about safety in your home, and then take steps to
improve the safety in your home.

1. Do you have a smoke detector in your home?                 YES     NO

  How often do you change the battery? _________________________

  Where is your smoke detector? _______________________________

2. Do you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home?       YES     NO

  Where is it?______________________________________________

3. Do you have a fire extinguisher?                           YES     NO

  Do you know how to use it?                                  YES     NO

  Where is it? _____________________________________________

4. If you have young children in your home,
   are cleaning products locked up or out of reach?           YES     NO

5. Do you have a fire escape plan for you and your family?    YES     NO

6. What are three safety improvements that you would like to make in your
   home? Write “1” “2” and “3” next to the most important improvements

   _____ get a fire extinguisher      _____ get a carbon monoxide detector
   _____ install smoke detectors      _____ put safety latches on doors
   _____ make a fire escape plan      _____ write down emergency numbers
   _____ other: ____________          _____ other: __________________

Unit Five: Health                                                           79
7. How long will it take you to accomplish these three goals?
   (Example: It will take me one week to get a fire extinguisher)


8. Try to make these three safety improvements in your home. When you
   accomplish one or more of your goals, report to the class what you did,
   and share with them the steps.

NOTE: Sometimes landlords are willing to make safety improvements in
apartment buildings. Ask your landlord if he or she will install smoke alarms,
or carbon monoxide detectors.

After the activity:

1. Was it difficult for you to make safety improvements? Describe what was
easy and what was difficult.

2. Can you think of other ideas to make our homes safer for our families?

Unit Five: Health                                                            80
Unit Five: Health   81
                    5. HEALTH INFORMATION ONLINE
                           Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Many people nowadays use the Internet to search for health
information. There is a vast amount of healthcare advice and information to
be found, and one good website is This activity
familiarizes ESL students with the website, and acquaints them with ways of
becoming better informed about their health.

PREPARATION: This activity can be used as part of a unit on health or
with any health literacy curriculum. There is a lot of information on the
website; this activity requires fairly good knowledge of health vocabulary, so
it is not geared toward lower-level students. Students should be familiar
with parts of the body, names of symptoms, and names of diseases in
English. All of this should be practiced in a variety of ways prior to
assigning this computer activity.

RECOMMENDATIONS: As with other Internet-based activities, teachers
should be quite familiar with the website before sending students to it.
There are many possibilities for using this website, so the activity can be
revised according to the students’ level and interest. Also, remember that
websites are subject to change.

  • symptoms
  • diagnosis
  • BMI
  • acne
  • anorexia nervosa

Unit Five: Health                                                            82
Computer Activity                            NAME __________________
Health Information Online

Task: Visit a health-related website and answer the following questions,

1. Go to

2. Look at “Health Tools” (on the left of the screen). Click on “Search by

3. Scroll down the page and read the list of symptoms.

4. SITUATION: You have noticed that recently you get headaches after
reading or working on the computer. Click on “headaches”. Read the list of

       -   What is the possible diagnosis? __________________________

       -   What do they recommend? _____________________________

5. Now, click on another symptom on the left of the screen.

6. What did you search for? ___________________________________

What did you learn that you didn’t know before? ____________________


7. Click on “Home” at the top of the page.

8. Look at “Health Tools”. Click on “BMI Calculator”.

9. What does BMI mean? ______________________________________

10. A normal BMI is considered between _____ and _____.

       If someone’s BMI is 30 or higher, what does it mean? ___________

Unit Five: Health                                                            83
       What are the risks? _____________________________________

11. SITUATION: Alicia is 5 feet 4 inches and weighs 150 pounds. Enter the

       -   What is her BMI? _____

       -   What is her risk level? ________________________________

12. Enter your own information (But you don’t have to write it down!)
*Note: You need to know your height in feet and inches and your weight in

13. Look at “Health Tools” again. Click on “Dictionary”.

14. Click on “A”

15. Scroll down to “acne”. What’s the definition? ____________________


16. Scroll down to “anorexia nervosa”. What’s the definition? __________


17. Look up other terms you are interested in.

After the activity:

1. Do you think this website is a good tool for health information? Why or
why not?

2. What new words did you learn from this activity?

Unit Five: Health                                                            84
                      Unit Six: Education

       1.     My Child’s School
       2.     Visiting a Community College
       3.     Telephone: Illinois Adult Learning Hotline
       4.     Computer Task: Chicago Public Schools website
       5.     Computer Task: Truman College website

Unit Six: Education                                           85
                         1. MY CHILD’S SCHOOL
                            Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Every parent should be aware of information relating to the
school their children attend. Many ESL/Family Literacy students don’t know
basic information about their children’s school that allows them to call to
report their child sick, to participate in parent-teacher conferences, and to
communicate with the school principal or other personnel. The purpose of
this exercise is to help parents acquire names, numbers and schedules so
that they can be better educational partners with their children.

PREPARATION:         Start with finding out what students already know and
what they don’t. Ask questions such as: “What school does your child go
to?” “What is your child’s teacher’s name?” etc. Go over vocabulary for low-
level students. It is helpful for teachers to be familiar with area schools
because even if students know the name of the school, they might not know
the correct spelling and pronunciation.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Most of the parents will not have a great deal of
trouble getting the information required for this activity. For students with
very limited English, teachers may want to encourage parents to do this
together with their children – at least, with their older school-age children.
Often parents have children in the same school, and when they bring back
the completed forms, they can help each other fill in their answers. This
exercise can also lead to a variety of other tasks, such as a role-play of
reporting a child’s absence from school. This activity can also reveal to the
ESL teacher or parent educator what types of questions and concerns the
students have about their child’s school, which can then lead to other
lessons or to helping the parent resolve problems.

  • Grade (ordinal numbers: 1st, 2nd, 3rd…)
  • Principal
  • Counselor
  • After-school program / extracurricular activities
  • Tutoring
  • School subjects: math, reading, science, social studies…

Unit Six: Education                                                          86
My Child’s School                        NAME ___________________
Community Activity

Task: Answer the following questions about your children’s school. To get
the answers for some of them, you will need to speak to staff at the school
that your children attend.

1. How many children do you have?        ____________________________

2. What is the name of your children’s school? ______________________

3. List the names of your children’s teachers and grade level (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th)

Child #1 teacher’s name: ____________________________ Grade: ____

Child #2 teacher’s name: ____________________________ Grade: ____

Child #3 teacher’s name: ____________________________ Grade:____

4. Write the name of the school’s principal:


5. Write the address of your child’s school:


6. Write the phone number of your child’s school:


7. Write the name of the school’s secretary:


Unit Six: Education                                                              87
8. Write the name of the school’s counselor: ________________________

9. What time does your child’s school start each morning? _____________

10. What time does your child’s school finish each day? ________________

11. Does your child’s school have an after school program?        YES     NO

   If YES, what activities do they have for children?



12. Does anyone at the school speak your native language?         YES     NO

13. Does your child’s teacher speak your native language?         YES     NO

14. What questions or concerns do you have about your child’s school?



                              After the activity:

              a. Who did you talk to get the information you needed?

              b. Where in your home are you going to keep this information?

              c. Did this activity help you to make contact with people in your
                 child’s school?

Unit Six: Education                                                            88
Unit Six: Education   89
                      2. VISITING A COMMUNITY COLLEGE
                              Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Students who are studying English in a smaller, community-
based agency can often be overwhelmed by the size and offerings of a
college. A scavenger hunt activity gives them a relatively low-risk method
for becoming more familiar with the school. This will help them later to
make the transition to a college, where they might want to take advantage of
further ESL classes, GED classes or degree programs.

PREPARATION: The teacher should visit the school first to make the
scavenger hunt specific to that school. In addition, teachers can make
contacts in the school and let them know their students will be coming for a
visit and may come in to ask questions.
       By having class/group discussions about students’ educational and
career goals, the teacher can find out students’ particular interests and
tailor the activity with that in mind. Students should also learn and practice
vocabulary related to higher education before doing this activity.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Students should work in pairs or small groups to
perform the activity. This will prevent having a steady stream of students
asking the same questions. Groups of students could also be given different
information to find out. Following the school visit, students compare their
findings. Additional activities can include:
          • a scanning activity using the college catalog;
          • visiting the college’s website to learn more about registration;
          • arranging a presentation with a representative from the school;
          • having more advanced students arrange appointments with
             counselors to find out more information about programs of
             study that they’re interested in.

       • Community college/ city college
       • Credit / noncredit
       • Associate’s degree/ 2-year degree
       • Continuing education
       • Certificate program
       • Admissions Office

Unit Six: Education                                                          90
Community activity                    NAMES        _________________
Visiting a Community College                       _________________

Task: Work with a partner(s) to find the following information. You will
need to ask some questions to find the information.

1. Go to the Admissions Office. Pick up a continuing education catalog and an
application. Bring them back to class.

2. Pick up information about degree/certificate programs that interest you.
(For example: nursing, child development, cosmetology, business). Bring
them back to class.

3. Where is the cafeteria located? (What floor? What room number?)
  What are people doing in there?



4. Where do you get ID cards? _________________________________

5. Where is the library located? (Floor? Room number?) What are the
   hours of the library?



6. Does the college have a career development center? If yes, what services
do they have?



7. Where is the testing center? _________________________________

Unit Six: Education                                                           91
8. Is there child care available at this college? What are the requirements
for registering a child?


9. Notice the people at the college. What kind of people do you see? What
   languages do you hear?


After the activity:

10. Was it difficult to find the information at the college? If yes, why?


11. What new words or phrases did you learn doing this activity? Write them


12. Do you think you would like to study here? Why or why not?


13. If you studied here, what classes would you like to take? List several




Unit Six: Education                                                           92
Unit Six: Education   93
                            Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This telephone activity is designed to inform students about
adult education programs near their homes, and to let them know which local
programs offer ESL, GED, citizenship and vocational classes. It may also
give them practice in leaving voice messages.

PREPARATION: Because this is an adult education hotline, staff are very
accustomed to speaking with non-native English speakers. Tell your students
that ESL students call the hotline every day – it’s fine for them to speak
slowly, and to ask staff to repeat information.
       As a part of any general ESL class, students should learn “telephone
English” – the language needed to state one’s name and reason for calling, to
leave voice messages, and to make requests for information. Go over in
detail all of the statements and questions that the caller is likely to need in
the telephone conversation. Have students practice leaving voice messages
(both during in-class activities and on students’ actual answering machines.)
Using your own program as an example, have students create a dialog in
which they ask the questions they will need for the real conversation.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Even low-level English students can do this
exercise, provided they are well prepared. It might help for the instructor
to call this hotline in advance, and let staff know that your students will be
calling, especially if your class is a beginning-level ESL class.

    •     hotline
    •     nearest/closest
    •     schedule
    •     “I’m calling to find out….”
    •     “Could you tell me…?”

Unit Six: Education                                                           94
Telephone Activity                               Name: __________________
Illinois Adult Learning Hotline

Task: Call the Illinois Adult Learning Hotline to find English, GED or
Citizenship classes near your home.

   1. Dial 1-800-321-9511.
      NOTE: Sometimes companies use letters instead of numbers. The
      Illinois Adult Learning Hotline is 1-800-SAY-GET IT. The letters are
      next to the numbers on your telephone.

   2. If someone answers the phone, find out the following information:

           •   Where the nearest English classes are to your



           •   What the schedule of classes is



           •   How to contact the program (telephone number,



           •   If they offer daycare


           •   If they offer GED or Citizenship


3. If no one answers the phone, leave your name, leave your name, a daytime
telephone number, your reason for calling, and the time that you called.
When they call you, ask them the questions above.

Unit Six: Education                                                          95
                           Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Many of our students have school-aged children. It is very
important for parents to be involved in their child’s education to ensure the
child’s success. The CPS website has a wealth of information and it is a good
idea for students to be familiar with it so they can use it as a resource.

PREPARATION: This task fits in well with a family literacy program or any
unit on schools and education. The teacher should preface the activity with
a discussion about schools to find out who has children in the public school,
what grade they are in, how they help their children with homework, etc.
This activity is designed for a low-intermediate or higher class, since the
amount of reading could be daunting for beginning students. Students also
need to be familiar with using computer functions such as scrolling and

RECOMMENDATIONS: This activity could easily be expanded as there is
much more on the website. This activity offers two examples of useful
information for parents. Students can be encouraged to go to the website
of their children’s school (there are links). More advanced students could
read the school report cards, but they must be familiar with reading tables
and graphs.
      For students who do not have children, the teacher can let them know
that this information can be shared with their relatives and friends who
have children in school.

       • Teacher Institute Day
       • Professional Development Day
       • Report Card Pickup Day
       • Tips for Parents
       • Encouragement
       • Availability
       • Discipline
       • Scheduling
       • Modeling
       • Support

Unit Six: Education                                                         96
Computer Task                                 Name: __________________
Chicago Public Schools Website

Task: Visit the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) website, and gather information
about ways to help your school-age child.

                      PART 1: THE SCHOOL CALENDAR

1. Type the website address:

2. Click on “School Calendar” on the left of the screen.

3. How many holidays are there? ________________________________
When is the next school holiday? ________________________________

4. When do classes begin for the school year? ______________________

5. When is the next Teacher Institute Day? ________________________
Do students attend on these days?    YES     NO

6. When is the next Professional Development Day? __________________
Do students attend on these days?     YES    NO

7. When is Report Card Pickup Day? ______________________________

8. When is winter vacation? ____________________________________

9. When is spring vacation? ____________________________________

10. When does summer vacation begin? ___________________________


1. Now click on “Parents” at the top of the page.

Unit Six: Education                                                        97
2. Read “What do children need from parents?” and answer the questions

       a) If a mother says to her child, “You can play with your friends after
       you finish your homework”, this is an example of:
              a. encouragement          b. availability     c. discipline

       b) If a father says to his child, “You read your book while I read my
       newspaper”, this is an example of:
              a. scheduling              b. modeling        c. support

       c) If a mother says to her child, “You did an excellent job writing your
       spelling words!”, this is an example of:
              a. availability        b. encouragement       c. involvement

3. What are 4 questions that you can ask your child’s teacher at the
beginning of the school year?

4. Now, click on “Tips for Parents” on the left.

5. Scroll down and read “Tips for Grades K-3”. (Read Tips for other grades
if you have children in higher grades).

           •   What are 5 things in this list that you already do?

           •   What are 3 ideas that you would like to try?

Unit Six: Education                                                              98
Unit Six: Education   99
                      5. TRUMAN COLLEGE WEBSITE
                           Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: For students interested in continuing their education, a
community college website can be quite an interesting place to get
information. This activity introduces students to Truman College, part of
the Chicago City College system. The exercise will give them a sense of what
courses are available to them, the kind of costs they might expect to pay,
and ways of applying for admission.

PREPARATION: Start with a discussion about community colleges. What
sorts of classes can one expect to take there? If you have researched the
website well, find not only traditional courses – ESL, nursing, early childhood,
etc. – but also more unusual classes that might appeal to students, such as
courses on films, art, or music.
       Have students make a list of the kinds of courses they might like to
take at a community college, including ESL, career-related and continuing
education courses. Also have them write down times of the day and days of
the week that they might be available to take a course.
       Discuss with students the practice of continuing education in the
United States, and the way that even elderly people take courses as a way to
pursue a hobby, gain knowledge and meet others. These classes can also be a
great way to improve one’s English.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This activity is primarily for students who are
intermediate-level and higher. It should take them close to an hour to

       • Admissions
       • Tuition
       • Fees

Unit Six: Education                                                            100
Computer Activity                            Name __________________
Truman College Website

Task: Visit the Truman College website, and gather information about
classes that the college offers.

1. Type in the website address:

2. Hit “enter”.

3. What is the address of Truman College? _________________________

4. What is the phone number?       _________________________________

5. Click on “Academic Calendar”

6. When do fall classes begin? ____________________________

7. When does fall semester end? ____________________________

8. Go back to the top of the page. Go to “Admissions”. Click on “Admissions

9. What are 3 ways that you can apply for admission?

10. Do students have to take a placement test? ___________

11. Scroll down to “Frequently Asked Questions”.

12. What is the placement test? _________________________________

12. Click on “Tuition and fees”.

13. How much is the tuition for Chicago residents? _______________

Unit Six: Education                                                       101
14. How much is tuition for residents outside of Chicago? ______________

15. Go back to the top of the page. Go to “Programs”. Go to “Adult
Education”. Click on “Free ESL”.

16. Who can take ESL classes? __________________________________

Who can’t take ESL classes? ___________________________________

17. Are there morning classes? ________ If yes, how many hours per week
do the classes meet? _________

18. Are there evening classes? ________ If yes, how many hours per week
do the classes meet? _________

19. Are there Saturday classes? ________ If yes, how many hours per
week do the classes meet? _________

20. Click on “Programs”. Click on “Academic Programs”. Click on “General
Information”. Now scroll down to “Programs of study”.

21. How many career programs are there? ________________

22. How many certificate programs are there? ________________

23. How many continuing education programs are there?

24. Write 2 programs that seem interesting to you:

       1) _______________________________

       2) _______________________________

25. What questions do you have about this college or these programs?
Write at least one question.

Unit Six: Education                                                       102
                     Unit Seven: Employment

      1.     Getting a Job Application
      2.     Visiting a Career Resource Center
      3.     Interviewing a Professional
      4.     Computer Task: Chicago Tribune Job Site

Unit Seven: Employment                                 103
                    1. GETTING A JOB APPLICATION
                          Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: An application is a necessary part of finding employment. This
task prepares the students in asking for an application at a place of business
and filling it out correctly.

PREPARATION: The teacher should bring in real applications from
different businesses and fill them out with the class. Discuss vocabulary and
abbreviations found on the applications. Inform the students of what
information is necessary, such as addresses and telephone numbers of past
employers and references.
       The teachers could discuss or role play possible responses from the
businesses. Places of employment may tell the student that they are not
hiring, they are out of applications, the student needs to speak to a manager,
or the student should fill the application out in the establishment. Students
need to be prepared for this variety of responses.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Lower level students, students not currently
looking for jobs, and students without the proper documents might not feel
comfortable performing this task. In that case, the activity could be done
during class time, with the students going to a specific place near the school
where the teacher has contacts and has arranged the exchange.
       Students should bring the applications back to class and copies can be
made so that students can see a variety of formats. The applications can be
filled out during class or as homework. Once the students turn in their
application, the teacher may hold an interview with the student for the
specific position. One final recommendation: have a student that is looking
for a job turn in the application at the business.

  • May I . . .  have an application?
                 take the application home?
  • Are you hiring?
  • I’m sorry. I don’t have . . . any time right now.
                                  my employment information with me.
  • Application vocabulary: position, availability, experience, employment
    history, references, signature

Unit Seven: Employment                                                       104
Community Activity                      Name: ___________________
Getting a Job Application

Task: Go to a restaurant or other business, ask for a job application, and
bring it back to class to fill out.

1. Go to the business and ask for a job application.
      “May I please have a job application?”

      •   If the person asks you to fill out the application right there, tell
          the person that you don’t have time, you don’t have all the
          information with you, or the application is for a friend.

2. Bring the application to class. Discuss your experience with your
classmates. Then fill out the application.

3. Turn in the application if you are interested in applying.

After the Activity:

1. Where did you get the application?

2. Who did you speak to?

3. What did the person say when you asked for an application?

4. Would you like to work at this place? Why or why not?

Unit Seven: Employment                                                           105
                          Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: The students will learn about employment resources in their
community by visiting a center that offers these services.

PREPARATION: This activity can supplement any unit on employment or
education. Teachers should have discussions with students about jobs,
careers and students’ goals before doing this activity.
      The teacher will need to find this resource in the community. Most
community colleges and many community agencies have career resource

RECOMMENDATIONS: This activity can be done as a class trip or students
could go individually or in small groups outside of class. In our case, there is
a career resource center located in our agency, so we invited a speaker to
give a presentation to the class about the services.
       Students who take advantage of the services can later report back to
the class about their experiences, and, hopefully, encourage others to also
use the center.

  • career resources
  • job listings
  • job referral
  • job training
  • resumes
  • eligible / eligibility

Unit Seven: Employment                                                         106
Community Activity                             NAME __________________
Visiting a Career Resource Center

Task: A career resource center helps people to find jobs and to find
information about careers. You will visit a career resource center in your
community and find out about their services.

1. What is the name of the person you spoke to? _____________________

2. What are the hours of the center? _____________________________

3. Who is eligible to use the services? Are there requirements regarding
age, residency, income?


4. What services are available? Check all that apply:

____ job listings        _____ resume writing help    ____ career counseling

____ job referrals                       ____ job training
                         ____ fax machines, copiers
____ other: __________________________________

5. If a person would like to use the services, what does s/he have to do?


After the activity:

1. Are you interested in using these services? Why or why not?

2. What problems did you have when you talked with the person?

3. What new words or phrases did you learn doing this activity? Write them

Unit Seven: Employment                                                         107
                          Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Students will learn about an occupation that is interesting to
them and have practice speaking with native speakers outside of class.

PREPARATION: This activity can accompany any discussion or unit on
occupations or employment. The activity requires a good deal of
coordination on the part of the teacher. At least some students will need
the teacher’s assistance in arranging an interview because they might not
know anyone who works in the occupation they choose. Students should
think of at least two occupations that interest them to have more options.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Lower-level students should practice the interview
questions in class beforehand, perhaps by interviewing the teacher or
another student in the class who is working. The students should also
practice their introduction to the interview (below) so the interviewees will
understand the nature of the assignment.
       As an alternative to face-to-face interviews, students could do
telephone interviews or email interviews.
       A variation on this activity is to invite a speaker or speakers to the

  • Hi, my name is ___. I’m doing an interview for my English class about
    jobs. Do you have a few minutes? / Could I ask you a few questions?
  • I’m sorry. Could you repeat that? / Could you spell that?

Unit Seven: Employment                                                      108
Community activity                    NAME ______________________
Interviewing a Professional

1. What is a profession that you are interested in? (For example, preschool
teacher, hairstylist, nurse, real estate salesperson, bus driver, etc.)

Write 2 professions that are interesting to you:

a) _________________________          b) __________________________

2. Choose one of the professions above and find a person that you can
interview about his/her job. If you need some help finding a person, ask
your teacher.

3. Interview the person (It must be in English!). Ask these questions and
add 2 more.

1) What is your name?    ______________________________________

2) What is your job title? _____________________________________

3) How long have you worked at this job? __________________________

4) Did you need a college degree or special training for this job? ________

5) If yes, where did you go to school? ____________________________

6) What are your responsibilities on the job?_______________________


7) What do you like best about your job? _________________________


Unit Seven: Employment                                                        109
8) What do you like least about your job? _________________________


9) ______________________________________________________?


10) _____________________________________________________?


After the activity:

1. Tell the class what you learned about this profession from your interview.

2. Do you think that you would like this job? Why or why not?

3. What problems did you have when you interviewed this person?

4. What new words or expressions did you learn?

Unit Seven: Employment                                                      110
Unit Seven: Employment   111
                  4. THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE JOB SITE
                          Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Job searches these days are as likely as not to take place
online, and so this is a good exercise to help students get familiar with
Internet searches. The Chicago Tribune’s “Career Builder” site is a national
one, so students don’t need to live in the Chicago area to search for a job.
The ads on this site will give students who are looking for work a good sense
of what is available in the marketplace and what qualifications are needed.

PREPARATION: This exercise fits squarely within any employment-related
unit. After students have talked about the job-searching process and
learned vocabulary that will help them in interviews and on application forms,
they may be ready to see what jobs are available in the market. Get the
students to start thinking about qualifications they have – both skills and
personal characteristics. If they make a list of these qualities, they may
see similar ones required in ads that they look at. As with looking for a
home or an apartment, they also need to have a realistic understanding of
what they can expect in the way of salary, benefits, working conditions, etc.
Have students create a profile of the type of job they could imagine getting,
which includes pay, hours, responsibilities, and benefits. This will help them
eliminate many jobs in their search.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This activity is for intermediate and advanced-
level students. Because of the wealth of information on the site, it will be a
difficult activity for any student who doesn’t have some basic computer
skills. Their task, to find two jobs they are interested in, is fairly simple,
but if they do a proper search, it is likely to take 30-40 minutes.

USEFUL LANGUAGE: Get your students acquainted with the different
types of jobs in “Select a Category”. Also, have them make lists of keywords
that they can use in their search, and verify their spelling. Abbreviations
are also important in doing job searches; acquaint them with the most
familiar ones.

Unit Seven: Employment                                                       112
Computer Activity                               Name: ________________
The Chicago Tribune Job Site

Task: Follow the steps below to get information about jobs from The
Chicago Tribune website:

   1. Type into the address bar.

   2. Click on “Jobs” on the top of the page.

   3. Enter a “keyword” that describes the type of job you are looking for.
      For example, type in “receptionist”, “data entry”, “mechanic”, etc.

   4. Type in the city in which you want to find a job.

   5. In “Select a Category”, choose the area that best describes the job
      you would like to have. For example, if you want to be a receptionist,
      select the category “Admin & Clerical”.

   6. Click on “Search”.

   7. If you are interested in a common job – data entry, receptionist, etc. –
      many jobs will appear. In fact, you may have hundreds of choices! To
      make your list smaller, look at “Start a new search” on the top of the
      screen. Choose jobs posted within the last 7 days, instead of the last
      30 days. Also, choose jobs within 10 or 20 miles, instead of 30 miles.

   8. Find two jobs that look interesting to you. In making your choice, do
      the following:

      •   Click on the position and read the job description.
      •   Choose jobs that don’t pay too much or too little
      •   Look at the location. Make sure it is not too far from your home.
      •   Look at the requirements. Do you have the skills to do this job?

Unit Seven: Employment                                                         113
JOB #1: Title of the job: _____________________________________

   1. What are the duties of the job?



   2. How much does the job pay? ______________________________

   3. Is this a job that you think you have the qualifications to do? ______

   4. How should you contact the company if you are interested in the job –
      email, fax, letter, phone, or walk in?_________________________

JOB #2: Title of the job: _____________________________________

   1. What are the duties of the job?



   2. How much does the job pay? ______________________________

   3. Is this a job that you think you have the qualifications to do? ______

   4. How should you contact the company if you are interested in the job –
      email, fax, letter, phone, or walk in?_________________________

After the activity:

1. To apply for a job online, you need several things: a resume, a cover
letter, an email address, and the ability to send attachments with email. Do
you have all these things? They will help you a lot in your search for a job.

Unit Seven: Employment                                                          114
                        Unit Eight: Leisure

       1.      Visiting a Chicago Park District Field House
       2.      Planning a Class Trip
       3.      Calling a Movie Theater
       4.      Computer Task: Travel website
       5.      Computer Task: Chicago Park District website

Unit Eight: Leisure                                           115
                        Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity is designed to introduce students to the programs,
many of them free, that are offered by local park offices or community
recreation centers. They will also have the opportunity to ask questions of
the center’s staff.

PREPARATION: This activity can accompany a unit on leisure and
recreation activities. It can also be used as part of a parenting education
class, with discussion centered around activities for children, such as
homework help, summer camp, or recreation activities. The teacher should
be aware of the location of such facilities and be able to assist students in
finding them. For low-level students, practice the questions and short
dialogues before going.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This activity can also be done as a class trip if
students all live near one another. Students should share the information
they found out. Teachers should encourage students to enroll in these park
programs (or enroll their children) and afterwards, students share their
experiences. This could be done in the form of a writing assignment, a short
presentation, or just a class discussion.

  • What kinds of programs do you have?
  • Do you have information / a brochure?
  • How much does it cost?

Unit Eight: Leisure                                                         116
Community Activity                    NAME _____________________
Visiting a Chicago Park District Field House

Task: Visit a park near your house. Go with your family or a friend. Go to
the park office. Then, answer these questions.

1) What is the name of the park? ________________________________

2) Where is this park? ________________________________________

3) What are 2 children’s programs they have that your children might like?

       a. _________________________________________________

       b. _________________________________________________

4) How much do these programs cost? ____________________________

5) Do they have after-school homework help?       YES     NO

       If yes, what are the hours? _______________________________

6) What are 2 adult programs they have that you might like?

       a. __________________________________________________

       b. __________________________________________________

7) How much do these programs cost? ___________________________

Unit Eight: Leisure                                                          117
8) Will they have a summer camp program for the summer?           YES   NO

       If yes, how much will it cost for one child to attend?   $_________

9) Bring back a brochure from the park to share with the class.

After the activity:

1) Will you register for a program at this park?           YES     NO

2) Did you ask questions at the park office?               YES     NO

3) If yes, what questions did you ask?

Unit Eight: Leisure                                                          118
Unit Eight: Leisure   119
                       2. PLANNING A CLASS TRIP
                           Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This is a student-centered activity that allows students to learn
about interesting sites in their city or town, utilize computer skills by
searching on the Internet, and make a class presentation on the information
they find.

PREPARATION: This activity can be done as part of a unit on leisure and
recreation. It can also be done in a computer literacy class. It makes a nice
end-of-term activity since it culminates in taking a class trip.
      In order to carry out this activity, students must have familiarity
with the Internet. In our class, students had previously used,, and websites.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Teachers should have a list of places in mind, such
as museums, zoos, conservatories, in case students need ideas. Teachers
could suggest some places that students might not already be familiar with.
However, this activity works best by allowing the students to decide. For
instance, in our class a student suggested a bowling alley, and the class
ultimately voted on that for our class trip. This was the first time bowling
for many of the students and everyone had a great time.
       This activity does not actually have to result in taking the trip, if time
and logistics does not allow; however, taking the trip in the end is ideal. A
variation would be to have each group take a trip to the place they have
researched and then report back to the class, bringing photos, maps,
brochures as part of their presentation.

  • brainstorm
  • kid-friendly

Unit Eight: Leisure                                                             120
Group activity                         NAMES ______________________
Planning a class trip

Task: For this project, you will work with a group of your classmates and
find information about a good place to visit in your city. You will present the
results of your research to the class. Follow these steps:

1) Brainstorm with the class a list of interesting places to visit. Write them
below. Each group picks a different place.

2) In the computer lab, go to and find the website for the place.

3) Go the website and find information about the place. Complete the
information below.

   •   Name of place: _________________________________________

   •   Address: _____________________________________________

   •   Phone number: _________________________________________

   •   Website: _____________________________________________

   •   Days & hours: _________________________________________

   •   Cost: ________________________________________________

   •   What can we see or do there? (Give a brief summary.)




Unit Eight: Leisure                                                              121
   •   Do you think the place is kid-friendly? Why or why not?

   •   Do you think this would be a good place for a class trip? Why or why

4) Go to or the website of your public transit system and find
out how to get there from the school. Print it out.

5) Call and ask for information about groups. Do we need to make a
reservation if we’re coming with a group?

6) Is there other information we need? Write your questions below. Ask
your questions when you call.

7) Present your information to the class.

8) The class will vote on where they would most like to go.

After the activity:

1) Our class voted on: ________________________________________

2) Date the class will go: ______________________________________

3) Cost of the trip: __________________________________________

4) I will go on the trip:   YES   NO

Unit Eight: Leisure                                                           122
Unit Eight: Leisure   123
                        3. CALLING A MOVIE THEATER
                             Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity gives students practice in making a telephone call
in a useful and interesting context. Most students go to the movie theater
at one time or another. Even if they don’t, this is a low-risk listening

PREPARATION: Students discuss the types of movies they like to watch,
how often they go to the movie theater, how often they rent movies at
home, etc. Bring in movie ads from the newspaper. Students can share
which movies they have seen or heard something about. Students then
choose a movie or movies they would like to see. They then need to find a
convenient theater and the phone number. Usually the ads indicate where
the movie is playing, but students might need help in finding the telephone
number. Most movie theaters have recordings listing the showtimes, so
students can listen as many as times as they want. However, it is a good idea
for the teacher to call some theaters ahead of time to help prepare
students for the various menu options of these recordings. Some smaller
theaters still have a person who answers the phone, so prepare students for
that too.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Students share their findings afterwards. If
students are having difficulty, teachers could record the phone message
using a speaker phone and prepare a listening activity for class.
       A fun activity would be to go as a class to see a movie, or students go
to a movie on their own and then write a movie review.

  • showtimes
  • starring
  • rated (G, PG, PG-13, R)
  • comedy, drama, action, suspense, horror, documentary…

Unit Eight: Leisure                                                          124
Telephone Activity                            NAME __________________
Calling a movie theater

Task: You will decide on a movie that you might like to see. Then you will call
the theater to find out information. First, answer these questions and
discuss with your classmates.

   1. How often do you go to the movies?      _______________________

   2. What movie theater do you usually go to? (Write the name or address
      of the theater) ________________________________________

   3. What kind of movies do you usually see? (Circle):       comedy     action

       drama      animated cartoons    horror    suspense     documentary

   4. Read movie ads from the newspaper together with your classmates.
      Has anyone seen the movie? Does he/she recommend the movie?

   5. Choose a movie that you would like to see. Write the name here:


       What kind of movie is it? _____________________________

       Who is starring in the movie? __________________________

       What is the movie rated? ( G, PG, PG13, R ) ________________

   6. Find the closest movie theaters to your home. Write the name and
      phone number of 2 theaters here:



Unit Eight: Leisure                                                           125
   7. Call the theater to find out the showtimes, prices, and location.
      Write the information here:



   8. What other information did they give on the phone message?



   After calling:

   1. Did you listen to a recorded message or did you talk to a person?

   2. If it was a message, how many times did you listen to the message?

   3. If it was a person, did you have any difficulties communicating with
      that person? Explain.

   4. Was this a good language practice activity for you? Explain.

Unit Eight: Leisure                                                          126
Unit Eight: Leisure   127
                             Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Chicago has the largest park district in the United States, and
one doesn’t have to be a Chicago resident to search this website and
discover the abundance of activities that the city’s parks offer. At the very
least, such an exercise as this can give even non-Chicago immigrant students
an idea of the kinds of recreation that cities and towns offer. This exercise
is a means to get the students involved in the community in which they live.
After completing this activity, the student will have the location and phone
number of parks near there house, and information about an activity that
the student is interested in. Hopefully, the student will take this activity a
step further and register for a class at their local park district.

PREPARATION: This activity could be included in a variety of units –
hobbies, date and time, simple present, community involvement. The
students should have some experience searching the Internet before
completing this activity. A discussion about hobbies or classes for adults
could precede this computer activity. If the students have Internet
experience, a beginner student can complete this activity.

RECOMMENDATIONS:              A visit to a park district facility could be a
wonderful addition to this activity. The students could explore the local
park and get a feel for what types of activities are available. For low-level
students, or programs without Internet access, a visit could be substituted
for this computer activity. Also, the teacher should strongly encourage the
students to register for the courses that they researched. The students
can also register their children for these courses.

  • Facilities

Unit Eight: Leisure                                                          128
Computer Activity                       Name _______________________
Chicago Park District Website

Part One: Find a park near your home.
1. Type in
2. Click on “parks and facilities” (in the box on the left side)
3. In the top right corner, type in your zip code and click “go”.
4. Write down the names of 2 parks close to your house.
    a. _____________________                   b. _____________________

5. Click on the name of the park that is closest to your house
       a) What is the address of the park?

        b) What activities does the park offer? (Look at the gray circles on
           the right of the page.)

6. Click “Back” one time to return to the list of parks in your zip code. Click
on the name of the second park near your house.
        c) What is the address of the park?

        d) What activities does the park offer?

Part Two: Find a specific activity that you would like to do.
1. Click on “programs” at the top of the page. Look at the activities listed
under “programs” on the right. There are hundreds of different activities
to choose from. You may also type in your zip code, a key word, or an age
group to make the search more specific.
       a) What activity did you select?

       b) What park(s) is it offered at?

2. Click on the activity at the park where you want to attend to find out
specific information about the program.
       a) What are the dates for this program?

       b) What day(s) and time is the program?

       c) Is there a fee for this activity?

Unit Eight: Leisure                                                               129
Unit Eight: Leisure   130
              Unit Nine: Community Involvement

       1.     Solving a Neighborhood Problem
       2.     Calling 3-1-1 for Civic Information
       3.     Computer Task: Finding Citizenship Information Online
       4.     Computer Task: are my elected officials?
       5.     Computer/Community Task: Volunteer Opportunities

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                      131
                        Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE:         Everyone may, on occasion, find it necessary to call upon
their local government to remedy a local problem or hazard. In a big city,
such problems are commonplace, particularly in the low-income
neighborhoods in which immigrants tend to live. Our students should become
familiar with the ways that we report community problems to local officials.

PREPARATION:           Begin with a discussion of typical urban hazards or
problems. Teachers can bring pictures, for example, of traffic violations,
derelict buildings, broken windows and sidewalks, malfunctioning traffic
signals, and so on. Have students identify similar problems that exist in
their own neighborhoods or in the neighborhood around the school. The
class could also take a short walking tour of the neighborhood surrounding
their school building, taking notice of hazards and recording the address and
time and date of each. For instance, in our program, the class made a map of
the nearby intersection, and indicated where the “NO TURN ON RED” signs
were not clearly visible. The teacher then called the office of the local
alderman, made an appointment to visit the office, and the class visited the
office and presented their list of complaints.

RECOMMENDATION: For lower-level students, it would work best to have
the class as a whole identify one problem, perhaps one in the neighborhood
surrounding the school. Higher-level students could be placed in groups,
each identifying its own problem. This activity could be carried out as a visit
to the alderman’s office or as a telephone call. In Chicago, residents with
non-emergency problems often call 3-1-1.

  • I’d like to report a problem
  • I live in your ward/district
  • There’s a hazardous/dangerous problem in my neighborhood
  • Potholes
  • Intersection

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                              132
Community Activity                                  Name: _________________
Solving a Neighborhood Problem

Task: Identify a problem in your neighborhood and report it to the city.

1. Talk with your classmates. What are some problems that you see in the neighborhood
where you live or the neighborhood around the school?

Check (√) the ones that you see:

___ broken windows            (Where?) ______________________________

___ broken sidewalks          (Where?) ______________________________

___ broken streetlight        (Where?) ______________________________

___ dangerous intersection (Where?) ___________________________

___ potholes in the street (Where?) ____________________________

___ other problem: __________________________________________

2. Choose one neighborhood problem that you would like to see fixed. Write

it down here: _______________________________________________


3. Who should you contact to report this problem? Write down a city

official and telephone number.__________________________________


4. Before you make your phone call, write down a list of things to say. What
exactly is the problem? Give as many details as possible.

5. Report the problem to a city official.

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                                        133

My name is __________. I study English at Asian Human Services, at 4800

North Broadway. I would like to report a problem. ___________________


After the activity:

1. Who did you talk to?

2. Did you have a problem talking to the person? If yes, explain.

3. What was the response of the person that you spoke to?

4. Did the problem get fixed? If not, did they tell you when they would fix
the problem?

5. New words you learned from this activity:

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                              134
Unit Nine: Community Involvement   135
              2. CALLING 3-1-1 FOR CIVIC INFORMATION
                          Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: This activity gives students the opportunity to practice
speaking and listening on the telephone, and to learn who their
representatives in local government are, information which can be valuable to
them in their roles as residents, parents and neighbors.

PREPARATION: This activity can supplement a unit on American civics.
Students should understand the basic organization of city government
before calling 3-1-1, the local Chicago phone number for police and fire non-
emergency matters and for general municipal information. Teachers could
bring in a copy of a Chicago map to show how the city is divided into wards.
Discussion should also center around why it is important to know one’s
alderman and the contact information. Some students may have met their
aldermen before, such as at a community meeting. Talk about what kinds of
things aldermen do for the city and what kinds of concerns students have in
their neighborhoods currently.
       The telephone exchanges in this task will be quite short, though
perhaps not particularly easy. Students will need to be familiar with
numbers, addresses and letters, and it is a good idea to do some practice

RECOMMENDATIONS: As with other telephone activities, it is helpful to
make an office phone available to students, if possible, in case they are
having difficulties communicating. The teacher could assist the student or
pair two students together to make the call. Note that 3-1-1 is not available
in all localities, in fact, not even in Chicago suburbs. However, this activity
could be adapted for finding information about other communities.

  • ward
  • alderman
  • How do you spell that?
  • Could you repeat that please?

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                              136
Telephone activity                  NAME ______________________
Calling 3-1-1 for Civic Information

Task: Find out the name and contact information for your alderman (or
other local government representative). Then, call the alderman’s office to
find out when the next community meeting is.

Suggested language: “I would like to find out my ward and alderman. My
address is ______. Could you please tell me the address and phone number

1. Call 3-1-1.

2. Find out the following information:

       -   My Ward # _______________________________________

       -   My Alderman’s name _________________________________

       -   My Alderman’s Address ______________________________

       -   My Alderman’s Phone Number___________________________

3. When you have the Alderman’s phone number, call his or her office, and
find out the following information:

       -   The next community meeting ____________________________

       -   The address of the next meeting _________________________

After the activity:

1. Did you understand the 3-1-1 operator?                      Yes    No

2. Did you understand the person in the alderman’s office?     Yes    No

3. Do you have any questions or concerns for your alderman? If yes, write
them here.

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                              137
                         Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Many of our ESL students are interested in becoming U.S.
citizens. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services website is probably
the best source of information for students. It gives them answers to
frequently asked questions and also has a naturalization self-test consisting
of the 100 civics questions that applicants should study. Even students who
do not plan to become citizens should be familiar with basic information on
U.S. government and history in order to better understand the news, help
their children with social studies homework and participate more fully in
their communities.

PREPARATION: This activity is suitable for a citizenship preparation
course or for any unit on U.S. civics. The activity should be preceded by
class discussions on U.S. citizenship – who in the class is a citizen already,
who is planning on becoming a citizen, what the benefits and requirements
are, etc. In addition, readings and/or audio/visual activities on U.S.
government and history should precede the naturalization self-test.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Much can be done with the citizenship questions to
review and learn them: games such as Bingo and Jeopardy, flashcards, etc.
Another extension activity is to have the students choose 10 or 20 of the
civics questions and ask an American-born individual the questions. Our class
enjoyed this activity and shared the results with the rest of the class.

  • Naturalization
  • Legal Permanent Resident

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                             138
Computer Activity                              Name __________________
Finding Citizenship Information Online

Task: Find information related to becoming a U.S. citizen.

1. Type in the website for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Their
web address is

2. Click on “Citizenship” on left side of the screen.

3. Scroll down and click on “Welcome to the US: A Guide for New
   Immigrants” (located on the bottom right side of the page).

4. Scroll down and click on “Becoming a US Citizen.

5. On this page there is a section entitled “Why Become a U.S. Citizen?”
Read the 12 reasons. Write six of the reasons here:

          a. _______________________________________________

          b. _______________________________________________

          c. _______________________________________________

          d. _______________________________________________

          e. _______________________________________________

          f. _______________________________________________

6. Look at the section entitled naturalization. What does “naturalization”
mean? ____________________________________________________

7. How long must you live in the US as a LPR (Legal Permanent Resident)
before you can become a citizen? ________________________________

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                              139
   9. Scroll down to Requirements for Naturalization. (Write down the six

          a. _______________________________________________

          b. _______________________________________________

          c. _______________________________________________

          d. _______________________________________________

          e. _______________________________________________

          f. _______________________________________________

10. Go back to the “Office of Citizenship” web page, and click on the
“Naturalization Self-Test” (located on the right side).

11. Take the practice test to see how much you know about US history and
government. Click “Generate questions” to get started. Answer the 5
questions that appear by clicking on the answers. Click “Review answers” to
check your answers. Click “Generate questions” again and answer the next 5
questions, and so on.

12. Approximately what percent did you get correct? _________________

13. Ask your teacher if you can print out the questions to study at home.
Try the test again later.

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                              140
Unit Nine: Community Involvement   141
                  4. WHO ARE MY ELECTED OFFICIALS?
                          Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Newspapers and TV news are full of references to our elected
officials, especially during election years, and if our ESL students are to
participate in this dialogue, they need to be familiar with the names and
titles of these officials. The website provides this basic
information. During election season, it also contains names and parties of
candidates running for office.

PREPARATION: This activity could accompany a unit or a course in US
civics. Students should be aware of the basic organization of government in
the US: federal, state, and local. Students generally know the President of
the US, but often don’t know what Congress is or how it is organized (Senate
and House of Representatives). Teachers should also give a similar overview
of state government. Depending on the level of the students, this
background can be simple or more involved, and there are many ESL
resources that can be used.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This activity provides one model of information
that can be found on the website. It will need to be revised to keep
information current. This activity is suitable for a low-level class, but
higher-level students could easily do much more, such as reading candidates’
positions on issues, going to candidates’ web pages to find their positions, or
sending emails or writing letters to the officials on issues of importance to
the students.

  • political party
  • Congress
  • Senate/Senator
  • House of Representatives/Representatives
  • Governor

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                              142
Computer Activity                      NAME ______________________
Who are my elected officials?

Task: You will find out the names of your elected officials, their party and
contact information.

1. Type in the address:
2. Enter your 9-digit ZIP code. Click “GO”. ( Don’t know your 9-digit ZIP
code? Click and find out. Then go back and type it in.)
3. Write the following information here about your CURRENT OFFICIALS:

President: _______________________           Party: __________________

Vice-President: ____________________         Party: __________________

US Senator: _______________________ Party: __________________

US Senator: ______________________           Party: __________________

US House: ________________________ Party: __________________

IL Senate: ____________________ ___          Party: __________________

IL Rep: _________________________            Party: __________________

Governor: ________________________           Party: __________________

4. Now, click on “President ___________ (write in name of U.S. President)”.
Scroll down to “Contact Information”. Write the following information:

       -   Washington DC email address: ___________________________

       -   Washington DC address: _______________________________

       -   Phone (for comments): ________________________________

5. Go Back. Click on Governor Rod Blagojevich. Write the following:

       -   Email address: _____________________________________

       -   Address: _________________________________________

       -   Phone: ___________________________________________

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                               143
                      5. VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
                            Notes for Teachers

PURPOSE: Many immigrant students express an interest in doing volunteer
work but don’t know how to find out about the opportunities available. Many
students cannot do paid work for various reasons: they don’t have the
authorization to work; they have young children to care for; they have
limited English. However, they want to participate in the community, meet
Americans and practice English. is a national website
that matches interested persons with volunteer opportunities. This is a
starting point to get students involved in volunteer work.

PREPARATION: Survey the students to gauge their interest in doing
volunteer work. Many students don’t have volunteer experience, so they
need to understand what kinds of opportunities there are. Have students
with volunteer experience share their stories or have students talk to
Americans (teachers, neighbors) about their volunteer experiences.
Students may feel that they don’t have the requisite skills, but they can
learn that there are a variety of opportunities for people of all skill levels
and even English-language skills: working in a food pantry, planting gardens,
playing games or making arts & crafts with children do not require advanced
skills. Before doing the computer task, facilitate the discussion in Part 1 and
go over all necessary vocabulary.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This activity works best with students who are at
an intermediate level of English or above, both for navigating the website
and for following through with the volunteer opportunity. However, it may
be adaptable for lower-level students. Also, if there is not computer access
for students, the teacher could copy down the listed organizations and
students could contact them by phone or walk-in.
      All students should be encouraged to follow through with their
contacts and then to do the volunteer work. More reticent students could
choose an opportunity that requires only a one-time commitment. Be sure to
have a discussion with students about the commitment required. If students
are really not sure, they should not choose a high-commitment placement.

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                              144
Computer/Community Task                   NAME ______________________
Volunteer Opportunities

Task: Research volunteer opportunities in your area, and contact
organizations about the possibility of doing volunteer work.

Part 1. Discuss with your classmates.
1. Have you ever worked as a volunteer? Do you know anyone who has worked
as a volunteer? What kind of work do volunteers do?

2. Are you interested in working as a volunteer? If you worked as a
volunteer, would you want to work with: (Check as many as you want)
___ animals               ___ arts & culture       ___ children & youth
___ disabled people       ___ the environment      ___ politics
___ immigrants            ___ women                ___ seniors
___ church groups         ___ homeless/hungry people

3. What type of work would you want to do?    (Check as many as you want)
     ___ clerical (typing, mailing)           ___ tutoring
     ___ childcare                            ___ cooking/serving food
     ___ assisting people                     ___ sports & games
     ___ gardening/planting                   ___ maintenance
     ___ arts & crafts                        ___ driving
     ___ cashier/sales                        ___ computers

4. How far would you travel to do volunteer work? __ 5 miles __ 10 miles

Part 2. Computer task.
1. Type in the address:

2. Enter your zip code. Click “search”.

3. Narrow your search. Select the number of miles you would travel and
select one kind of volunteer work you would like to do. Click “search”.

4. How many volunteer opportunities did you find? _____

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                            145
5. Read the list of volunteer opportunities. Click on the ones that you want
to learn more about.
6. Choose one that interests you. Write the following information:

       Name of volunteer opportunity: ________________________

       Name of organization: _______________________________

       Address: _________________________________________

       Details: __________________________________________


       Skills needed: _____________________________________

       Date: ___________________________________________

       Estimated time of commitment: ________________________

       # of volunteers needed: ________

7. Click “I like this opportunity”.

8. Register your information. (Option: You can write a message to the
organization if you want). When you finish, click “send”.

10. You will immediately get a Confirmation. Print out the Confirmation

After the activity:
1. Tell the class about the volunteer opportunity you applied for.

2. Did you receive a response from the organization? If yes, did they email
you or call you? If no, are you going to contact them?

3. Are you going to volunteer for this organization? If yes, when?

4. After your volunteer experience, share your experience with your
classmates. Do you recommend volunteering with this organization? What
did you learn?

Unit Nine: Community Involvement                                               146
                             Student Surveys

       In this section, there are several surveys that we have developed to
gauge the students’ interest and current involvement in their community.
The teacher can use these surveys to decide which activities are of interest
or relevant to the particular class.
       The first three surveys are intended for a lower level student. The
first survey is pictorial. It is intended for a very low level learner, even one
with low literacy skills. The student can either check the activities that he
or she does currently or the activities that the student is most interested in
practicing during class.     The second survey is not meant to determine
student goals, but rather to give the teacher an idea as to what activities to
include in the semester’s plans. If most of the students do not have a
library card, for example, a library visit would be an obvious task for the
class. The third survey is more interested in why the students want to
study English. It is meant to determine what general goals the students
       The final survey is more extensive, and gauges which community
practices the students currently participate in and which activities the
students struggle with because of their English. At the end of the survey, it
asks students to detail why the particular situation is difficult or what
specifically the student wants to learn. This should give the teacher a very
strong indication of what activities are deemed important to the student.
The survey is organized in order of the units contained in this book.

Student Surveys                                                                147
Student Surveys   148
Survey: Community Involvement by Students

Please circle “yes” or “no” for each question. If you don’t understand the
question, do not circle anything.

1. Do you have a computer?                   YES                 NO

2. Do you have a telephone?                  YES                 NO

3. Do you have a car?                        YES                 NO

4. Do you have a driver’s license?           YES                 NO

5. Do you take the bus?                      YES                 NO

6. Do you take the train?                    YES                 NO

7. Do you walk to school?                    YES                 NO

8. Do you go to the post office?             YES                 NO

9. Do you have a library card?               YES                 NO

10. Do you rent an apartment?                YES                 NO

11. Do you own a house?                      YES                 NO

12. Do you have health insurance?            YES                 NO

13. Do you take medicine every day?          YES                 NO

14. Do you have children in school?          YES                 NO

15. Do you have a job?                       YES                 NO

      If yes, do you work full-time or part-time? ___________________
      If no, do you want a job?               YES           NO

Student Surveys                                                              149
                                  Goals Survey

       Many people make goals in their lives. “Learning English” is a goal that
all of you are trying to reach. Probably you have other goals that are
important to you. Below are some goals that many people have. If the goal
is important to you, put a check next to “Yes”. If it is not important to you,
or you are not sure, check “No” or “Maybe.” Write two or three goals next
to “Other”, if you can think of anything else you want to do this year. Also,
write WHEN you want to reach this goal (for example, “6 months”, “one
year”, “5 years”).

  Goal                      Yes          No           Maybe          When?

Find a job                _____        _____        _____        ________

Improve my English        _____        _____        _____        ________

Take college classes      _____        _____        _____        ________

Buy a house               _____        _____        _____        ________

Change apartments         _____        _____        _____        ________

Become a U.S. citizen     _____        _____        _____        ________

Register to vote          _____        _____        _____        ________

Work as a volunteer       _____        _____        _____        ________

Get a driver’s license    _____        _____        _____        ________

Help at my child’s school _____        _____        _____        ________




Student Surveys                                                               150
                  Survey: Community-based Topics & Practice

Your Name: ________________________________________________

There are many situations that you encounter everyday which require
English. Listed below are some of these situations. Which of these
situations are difficult because of your English skills? Are you interested in
practicing these situations during this course?
Please number each one 2, 1, or 0.
                    2= very interested
                    1= a little interested
                    0= not at all interested

___   bus
___   train
___   airplane/airport
___   reading a map
___   asking directions

                             Government offices
___   using the post office
___   getting driver’s licenses or auto registration
___   going to court (parking tickets, accidents, arrests…)
___   going to immigration office
___   using the library

___   banks
___   grocery stores
___   clothing store
___   department store
___   travel agency
___   computer/electronics store
___   movie theaters
___   restaurants

Student Surveys                                                              151
___   finding an apartment
___   buying a house or condominium
___   filling out/signing leases
___   asking landlord for repairs
___   talking to utility companies (gas, electric, phone)
___   getting repair work at my home (plumber, electrician, etc.)

                           Emergency and Health
___   reporting a crime to police
___   reporting a fire
___   child safety
___   first aid/CPR
___   neighborhood watch groups/community policing
___   talking to doctors and hospital staff
___   buying medicine at the pharmacy

                             Educational services
___   registering for college classes or training programs
___   dealing with my child’s school (correspondences, report cards, etc.)
___   attending school meetings
___   getting a tutor for my child
___   helping my child with homework

___   looking for a job in the classified ads
___   going to an employment agency/service
___   preparing a resume
___   filling out job applications
___   going on job interviews
___   talking to my boss about problems at work
___   finding volunteer work
___   understanding paychecks/benefits

                             Talking with others
___   making American friends
___   making “small talk” with strangers
___   making telephone calls/leaving messages

Student Surveys                                                              152




Look at the situations where you put a “3”. Choose the 4 most important
situations. These are the ones which you are most interested in practicing
and learning more information about during this course.
For these 4 most important situations, please explain here. For example, if
you put “3” next to “bank”: I’d like to know how to open a bank account. If
you put “3” next to “restaurant”: I’d like to know how to order from a menu.

1. ______________________________________________________


2. _______________________________________________________


3. _______________________________________________________


4.   _____________________________________________________


Student Surveys                                                                153